London’s JFK statue – update

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I wrote about the vandalisation of London’s one and only memorial to the former US President John F Kennedy. The shocking act was barely reported in the media, and not one important blog mentioned it either – very unheard of. That is why I wrote a piece on the matter. Its now nearly two years since the memorial, in its former location on Marylebone Road, was vandalised by persons unknown. At the time it was thought the statue would be restored to its old location. However it seems the lengthy delay that ensued was because of concerns the statue might get damaged once again.

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Notice informing well wishers that the statue has been moved.

I had not known at the time that the old location belonged to the International Students House (ISH) in Great Portland Street and was not even aware their premises are to the rear. However when the memorial was unveiled in 1965 the site was indeed the ISH’s front forecourt.

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The old site of the JFK memorial. The new location is just behind – where the banners can be seen.

On the day prior to the ceremony itself at ISH in May 1965, the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Jackie Kennedy, Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the Kennedy brothers and others attended a ceremony to unveil the other JFK memorial in this country at Runnymede.

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The Royal ceremony to unveil the larger memorial at Runnymede 14th May 1965.

The Illustrated London News at the time said, “On the following day Senator Robert Kennedy unveiled, in the forecourt of International Students House, a memorial bust by Jacques Lipchitz, which was subscribed by readers of the Sunday Telegraph. Senator Edward Kennedy was also present.”

The Sunday Telegraph and the Camden New Journal were the only media as far as is known, to report on the damage done to the memorial. Below is the Sunday Telegraph’s report:

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The JFK memorial damage as reported in the Sunday Telegraph 21st August 2017

If one looks at the old picture of the opening ceremony, performed by Edward and Robert Kennedy on 15th May 1965 (shown below) it will be seen the unveiling took place in much the same location, but with the memorial and the bust the other way round. It is clear there wasn’t a wall fronting Marylebone Road in those days.

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The unveiling ceremony 15th May 1965. Source: Twitter

It is not known how the memorial came to face Marylebone Road – I assume the premises were altered and a wall was built across the Marylebone Road side. A dedicated area was then made and the statue moved slightly and turned to face north. Presumably if it had remained where it was, it wouldn’t have been accessible otherwise.

Nevertheless in view of the vandalism it was decided to bring the memorial inside the ISH itself. A new plinth was made and the bust of JFK placed on the top. Its just inside the main doors so people can see it without needing to enter the building proper.

The new location for the memorial is right opposite Great Portland Street tube station as my pictures show. (See the feature image and that below.)

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From Great Portland Street (and the tube station) the memorial can be seen inside the ISH’s lobby.

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The JFK statue in its new location within the International Students House entrance lobby.

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Above and below: Two side views of the memorial bust.

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Detailed of the opening ceremony in May 1965 – as seen in the ISH’s entrance lobby.

Link to the ISH’s website on the JFK memorial

My previous post on the vandalism at the JFK memorial

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