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.
For months beforehand, with very clever marketing, we were told
"Something BIG will be steaming through Kernow"! (Kernow
is Cornish for Cornwall)
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
The Man Engine arrived on the back of a low-loader, and was prepared
for its performance
All was prepared and made ready, despite the drizzle - all the more
The Man Engine crouched down, poised like some magnificent beast,
and ready to come to life...
The performance begins...
...and the Man Engine comes alive to the sound of evocative song
The Cry goes up!
"In Kernow!... Behold!... the Man Engine!"
The Man Engine was a very popular photo opportunity!
Manipulated and operated by the team of puppeteers on the ground...
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
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