Britain’s largest ‘Man Engine’ sets off on epic journey

Britain’s largest mechanical puppet has set off on a historical summer journey to walk the entire length of the Cornwall's historical mining coast. 

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The dramatic 12-metre tall metalwork puppet, known as the Cornish Mining Man Engine, left Tavistock in Devon today to begin his 130-mile journey to Geevor in Cornwall.

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The walk celebrates 10 years since Cornwall and West Devon was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The Man Engine contains a 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 20th century excavators.

The Man Engine is hauled to his feet in Tavistock Credit: Mike Thomas

Will Coleman of Golden Tree Productions, who came up with the idea for the Man Engine, said, “Kernow, our horn-shaped granite kingdom of Cornwall, is a tiny 0.002% of the planet’s surface, yet beneath our rocky shores can be found samples of more than 90% of all mineral species ever identified. Millions of years in the making, the geology of Cornwall is unique.

“This unbelievable geological treasure (copper, tin, arsenic, lead, zinc, silver, etc) has powered the Cornish people’s endeavour through 4,000 years of mining history: innovation, triumph and heartbreak. I was brought up on the banks of the River Tamar with the stories and the legacy of Cornish mining all around me. 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 Cornwall and West Devon mining stories.”



The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site Partnership provided the initial funding for the project. 

Between 25th July and 6th August 2016, the general public will be able to head to 20 events right across the area to see the Man Engine and learn more about Cornwall’s mining history. Interactive workshops will also be held for school children. 

To track the Man Engine using an interactive map and see the schedule of events, visit: www.themanengine.org.uk

Watch the Man Engine’s journey on BBC Spotlight here 

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Image: Mike Thomas