Saturday 3 December 2016

UK's largest mechanical puppet begins Cornish mining pilgrimage

Published 25/07/2016 | 11:56

The largest mechanical puppet ever built in Britain, Cornish Man Mining Engine, is unveiled in Tavistock to hundreds of people
The largest mechanical puppet ever built in Britain, Cornish Man Mining Engine, is unveiled in Tavistock to hundreds of people

The UK's largest ever mechanical puppet has been unveiled to the public for the first time.

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The epic 10 metre-high Cornish Man Mining Engine marks the 10th anniversary of the Cornwall and West Devon mining landscape being added to the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites.

The behemoth has begun a 130-mile journey across the entire length of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site - from Tavistock in Devon to the Geevor Tin Mine at Pendeen in Cornwall - to mark two weeks of celebrations.

The 'miner' is a major feat of Cornish engineering and is the same height as a double-decker bus when in its 'crawling' mode.

When stood up the puppet will transform to almost three times that height and with its accompanying vehicle weighs nearly 40 tonnes.

It sports a number of 'motifs' of Cornish mining with a giant beam engine as a rocking neck, mining 'head gear' sheave wheels as shoulders, cast iron flangers and rivets throughout and hands that reflect massive 20th-century excavators.

Throughout its journey the part man, part machine will be accompanied by animated theatrical shows with music, theatre and storytelling.

The Man Engine is the brainchild of Will Coleman, founder and director of Golden Tree Productions.

"I was brought up on the banks of the River Tamar with the stories and the legacy of Cornish mining all around me," he said.

"The landscape is deeply rooted in the impacts of that industry and in the successes and the struggles of the real people whose lives shaped our Cornish mining story.

"With 19th-century mining vernacular and motifs throughout, we have all worked together to drive a colossal scale and excitement into him, honouring the achievements, the harshness, the beauty and the significance that the work, energy and brainpower that these people brought to our entire world.

"Now he's alive and off on the timely pilgrimage, with our team of miners and bal maidens, of more than 100 miles throughout our homeland.

"I can't explain how extraordinary the feeling is to see the people on the streets meet him, and be so in awe of him."

Press Association

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