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Crowds flock to see Cornwall's Man Engine

Digger Blogger | 16:03, Wed August 03 2016

This is the kind of eccentricity that makes this country great. The Man Engine is a great big mechanical puppet – the largest that the UK has ever seen, apparently – and he has been striding his way across Cornwall for the past couple of weeks.

His journey began in Tavistock on 25th July and ends 130 miles later at Geevor Tin Mine in Boscaswell on Saturday 6th August.

In procession he is folded over, but then he transforms to performance mode and walks tall at 10 metres high.

He has caused such a stir wherever he has been that the local press has been full (ish) of reports of county council emergency planning meetings to cope with the crowds of tourists and locals flocking to see him, and the accompanying problems of car parking.



It’s all to do with the 10th (Or ‘tinth’) anniversary of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape gaining UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site Partnership provided the initial funding for the two-week journey. I suppose they might have called him the Tin Man, but that would definitely have been under-selling it.

This smoking, belching man-monster-machine is the brainchild of Will Coleman of Cornwall’s Golden Tree Productions, drawing on the big puppet talents of Hal Sylvester and engineers, fabricators, welders, smoke and lighting experts and artists from across the southwest.


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The Man Engine represents Cornish mining, with a giant beam engine as a rocking neck, mining ‘head gear’ sheave wheels as shoulders, cast iron flanges and rivets throughout and excavators for hands. He is powered by a Volvo wheeled loader that acts as the Man Engine’s ‘puppeteer’, aiding the support crew of ‘miners’ who raise him up and animate him while he is ‘transformed.’  

Volvo Construction Equipment was approached by Golden Tree Productions in November 2015 and agreed to loan an L220G to the project free of charge. The loader provides the power behind the Man Engine allowing him to stand at his full height and Volvo’s product specialists worked with Golden Tree Productions to ensure the machine and puppet would work together effectively and safely.







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