The largest mechanical puppet ever built in the UK has been unveiled today, as it sets out on a 200km track across Cornwall and West Devon to celebrate the area's mining heritage.
The 10 metre-high Cornish Man Mining Engine has been created by Will Coleman, founder and director of Golden Tree Productions, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Cornwall and West Devon mining landscape being added to the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites.
"I was brought up on the banks of the River Tamar with the stories and the legacy of Cornish mining all around me," said Coleman.
"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 Cornish mining story”
The Man Engine, unveiled today in Tavistock, Devon, rolls on large wheels with the help of a dozen puppeteers. Commissioned by the Cornish Mining World Heritage partnership, the puppet will spend the next two weeks travelling from Tavistock to the the Geevor Tin Mine at Pendeen in Cornwall.
"With 19th-century mining vernacular and motifs throughout, we have all worked together to drive a colossal scale and excitement into him, honouring the achievements, the harshness, the beauty and the significance that the work, energy and brainpower that these people brought to our entire world,” Coleman said.
"Now he's alive and off on the timely pilgrimage, with our team of miners and bal maidens, of more than 100 miles throughout our homeland.”
The 40-tonne Man Engine has 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 massive 20th-century excavators.
Throughout its journey the part man, part machine will be accompanied by animated theatrical shows with music, theatre and storytelling.