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The Man Engine at Minions

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.

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

Behold the Man Engine
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 arrival
The Man Engine arrived on the back of a low-loader, and was prepared for its performance

Man Engine getting ready
All was prepared and made ready, despite the drizzle - all the more atmospheric!

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

The Man Engine performance starts
The performance begins...

The Man Engine performance
...and the Man Engine comes alive to the sound of evocative song

The cry goes up!

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

Everyone taking photos of the Man Engine
The Man Engine was a very popular photo opportunity!

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

The Man Engine
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

The Man Engine
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

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

The Man Engine operators and puppeteers
...and the performers were clearly enjoying themselves!

The Man Engine operators and puppeteers
Dedication and co-ordination!

The Man Engine comes alive
The Man Engine stomping to the tune

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

The Man Engine with drone and pincers!
"Hmmm... pesky drone... perhaps if I just nip it with me pincers?!!"

The uncannily life-like head of the Man Engine
The uncannily life-like face of the Man Engine

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


All photographs are copyright of Clive ffitch; please contact PhotoFile Cornwall if you wish to use them.
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