Exactly three months to the day after his flight in Vostok I had ushered in a new age of space exploration, on 12 July 1961, the trim figure of Yuri Gagarin strode down the gangway of a British Viscount airliner and walked briskly out across the runway of Manchester airport towards a sea of expectant faces, and flashing camera bulbs.
There are many excellent accounts of his visit – for a detailed view Gurbir Singh’s book Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester is hard to beat.
It is from this source that I was able to retrace Yuri’s journey, from the then Ringway Airport, to the offices of the AUFW at Brooks Bar.
Archive photographs – Local Image Collection
Thousands lined the wet streets of Manchester that day as he passed by in his beige open topped Bentley – standing proud waving to all and sundry.
This is Yuri’s journey via the Manchester Local Image Collection.
A loose approximation of what he may have see on that day in 1961.
We were allowed out of Brownley Green school to line the road as he passed, great memories.
I stood on Chester Road with my mum, I was 4 years old, but still remember it.
At that time, I was a student, working my socks off in the Central Library, I went outside into St. Peter’s Square to watch him pass, he gave everyone a big smile.
Still tell my children, tiny at the time – you saw the first man in space, I remember his smile.
Worked in an office in Albert Square – had a grandstand view of him arriving at the Town Hall.
I can remember a police escort taking Yuri to Albert Square via Princess Parkway through Withington, Fallowfield and Moss side, there were hundreds of people lined up watching a waving at him.
When Gagarin visited Manchester he was given a bronze bust of Lenin made by the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers. Four were made in total and my Dad owns one of them.
My Grandad’s funeral was on the day he came, as we passed down Altrincham Rd onto the Parkway policemen who were holding back the crowds saluted, he would have loved it.
Yeah I seen him stood up in a big car with a green uniform on. It was going down Brownley Rd passing Meliden Crescent heading for the Airport in Wythenshawe, I was about 6 years old.
Working for Manchester Parks as a 20 yr old on Princess Parkway and he came past me as I was mowing the grass, in an open top Rolls or Bentley, he saluted me personally as he passed, of course I stood to attention and returned the salute – Magic Moment
Shadow Moss Road
Post-war social housing
St Andrews Church JCG Prestwich and Son 1960
Housing built 1934
St Luke The Physician – 1938-9 by Taylor and Young
Benchill Hotel – demolished Autumn 2012
Royal Thorn – demolished 2001
St Ambrose A well-detailed, relatively modest post-war design by Reynolds & Scott, with an impressive and largely unaltered vaulted interior. The dedication relates to St Ambrose Barlow, a Catholic martyr from nearby Barlow Hall.
Barlow Moor Road
The Oaks demolished in the early 1990s following a brief life as the Sports Bar
The Seymour – demolished 2002
Upper Chorlton Road
The Whalley Hotel closed in 2014
Imperial Picture Theatre – was opened in 1914. Seating was provided in stalls level only. It had a 5 feet deep stage and two dressing rooms. There was also a café in the cinema. Around 1929 it was equipped with a Western Electric sound system.
Architect W.H. Matley
The Imperial Picture Theatre was closed on 15th January 1976 with Charlotte Rampling in Caravan to Vaccares and Jean-Claude Brialy in A Murder Is a Murder Is a Murder.
164 Chorlton Road Hulme Manchester – offices of the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers, it was at their invitation that Yuri had visited Manchester.