Statue of Soviet space hero to go up in London

Last Updated: Apr 06, 2011, 09:39 AM IST

London: A statue of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin will stand guard along one of London`s most important thoroughfares for the next 12 months, the British Council has said, a gesture intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the first manned flight into space.

The aluminium-and-zinc likeness of the pioneering space hero will go up tomorrow in honour of Gagarin`s successful flight around the earth from Baikonur, in modern-day Kazakhstan, the council said in a statement.

It will stand opposite a statue of 18th century British naval explorer Captain James Cook on London`s Mall -- the ceremonial route between Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square which Kate Middleton and Prince William will travel on their wedding day.

In a statement, British Council Chair Vernon Ellis said the statue was meant to pay tribute to the "sheer bravery and adventure" of Gagarin`s space flight.

In his statement, Ellis said "through this statue we celebrate both that breakthrough for mankind and the UK-Russian relationship."

The statue is a replica of one commissioned in the Moscow suburb of Lyubertsy, where Gagarin once worked, and is a gift from Russian space agency Roscosmos, the council said.

It added that the work would be taken down after a year and moved elsewhere in Britain.