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The Man Engine at Minions

Photographs taken 2016

On Tuesday 26th July 2016, the Man Engine came to Minions. The Man Engine is a giant 12 metre-odd, 40 feet high mechanical steam and rope-driven puppet - though the term puppet hardly does it justice - has been brought to life by its inventor and energy, and the vision, of Will Coleman and his hard-working and enthusiastic team of engineers, operators and puppeteers of Golden Tree Productions. The Man Engine is the tallest mechanical puppet that has been constructed in the UK, taller than three double-decker buses, larger than many dinosaurs, and its actual appearance was a closely guarded secret until it was finally revealed at the first Man Engine event in Tavistock. And it was very cleverly marketed!

The Man Engine itself celebrates ten years (or the "tinth" year!) of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. The term "man engine" relates to the old method of raising miners from the depths of the old tin and copper mines of Cornwall by a series of interconnected large beams with footholds, which were cranked up and down by a Cornish beam engine. These "man engines" that came into use, saved hours of time that the miners spent descending the mine, and later ascending back up the ladders back to "grass" - (back to the surface). It also commemorates all those miners who lost their lives, including the 31 men at Levant Mine who died when the heavy timbers of the man engine collapsed down the shaft, taking the side platforms and men with them.

Man Engine at Minions Something Big
For months beforehand, with very clever marketing, we were told that...
"Something BIG will be steaming through Kernow"! (Kernow is Cornish for Cornwall)

Man Engine at Minions Behold
Then the day came, and at Minions, the third location chosen for the Man Engine tour, with Will Coleman
at the helm, and with cries of "sten! sten! sten!" (tin! tin! tin!), the crowd beheld the Man Engine itself!

Man Engine at Minions Arrival
The Man Engine arrived on the back of a low-loader, and was prepared for its performance

Man Engine at Minions Getting Ready
All was prepared and made ready, despite the drizzle - all the more atmospheric!

Man Engine at Minions Poised
The Man Engine crouched down, poised like some magnificent beast, and ready to come to life...

Man Engine at Minions Poised
The performance begins...

Man Engine at Minions Comes Alive
...and the Man Engine comes alive to the sound of evocative song

The Cry goes up!

"In Kernow!... Behold!... the Man Engine!"

Man Engine at Minions
The Man Engine was a very popular photo opportunity!

Man Engine at Minions
Manipulated and operated by the team of puppeteers on the ground...

Man Engine at Minions
The Man Engine is a very clever interpretation of a Cornish Miner, and combines wheels and mechanism
reminiscent of the head-gear of a mine, and powered by steam pistons and ropes to animate it

Man Engine at Minions
All to the sound of the stirring song "The Hard Rock Cornish Miner"

The song "Hard Rock Cornish Miner" rang out across the old mining area of Caradon Hill and Minions during the amazing Man Engine performance, despite the drizzle that failed to put off the crowds of people who came to enjoy the event. If anything, it made it all the more atmospheric (and despite also the odd drop of rain on the lens!) when set among the remains of old tin and copper mines and engine houses in the area - the Minions Heritage Centre can be seen on the left.

The Hard Rock Cornish Miner

Excerpt of the song "Hard Rock Cornish Miner" as sung by the strong voice
of Will Coleman at the Man Engine event at Minions

Man Engine at Minions
At 40 feet high, the Man Engine stood head and shoulders above the crowd...

Man Engine at Minions Operators
...and the performers were clearly enjoying themselves!

Man Engine at Minions Operators
Dedication and co-ordination!

Man Engine at Minions Comes Alive
The Man Engine stomping to the tune

Man Engine at Minions and Drone
"But what is this I spy? it an insect, or a BBC drone perhaps?"

Man Engine at Minions Drone Pincers
"Hmmm... pesky drone... perhaps if I just nip it with me pincers?!!

Man Engine at Minions Life-like Face
The uncannily life-like face of the Man Engine

Man Engine at Minions Kernow
Will Coleman and the Man Engine
A very proud day for Cornwall and the achievements of the Man Engine team!

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