The Man Engine is the UK’s largest mechanical puppet, designed to raise public awareness and engagement with Cornwall’s mining history.
- A flagship project was needed to celebrate tenth anniversary of the Cornwall and West Devon UNESCO Mining World Heritage site.
- increase awareness, appreciation and understanding of Cornish mining culture and history,
- facilitate public engagement, providing an interpretative legacy for the future,
- show a new generation that Cornwall can be a world class driver for technical innovation.
Objectives and implementation
- The UKs largest ever mechanical puppet, 11 m tall, was built by Golden Tree Productions and was the centre of a show for open spaces (e.g. town centres, Geevor Mine Museum) throughout the Cornish mining district. The Man Engine made a 21 date pilgrimage, with a 50 minute ceremony based around storytelling, theatre and song.
- In addition there were associated education activities in which Golden Tree Productions worked with Camborne School of Mines (University of Exeter), Geevor Tin Mine and others to hold workshops for school children that used song, Cornish language, art and practical STEM activities to teach about Cornwall’s mining history, showing that Cornwall can be a world class driver of tech innovation, and mentioning the importance of contemporary mining.
- Golden Tree also worked with local choirs and community groups teaching traditional songs and mining history.
- General public and tourists in Cornwall, Regional authorities, World Heritage site, all the mining-related organisations
The project secured funding of £474,000 and received in-kind support of £416,650. 41 artists were engaged, 50 volunteer ambassadors, 390 volunteer stewards.
Evidence of success
The project reached a direct audience of 149,400 in the region, 112 million by print and broadcast media, and 24.85 million by social media. The education programme reached 1421 pupils and 80 teachers. It is estimated that the project had an economic impact of £2,973,060. The project won the UK National Heritage Lottery award for the best arts project in 2016.
The Man Engine’s success prompted a ’Resurrection tour’ in 2018, travelling to current and historical mining communities across the UK.
Potential for learning or transfer
- Areas which have a proud mining heritage are likely to welcome re-starting of mining activities and funding for mining–related business development. Creating an environment in which Europe can produce more of its own raw materials, especially for high technology applications (including critical raw materials) is a high priority in Europe.
- This a great example of celebrating and educating people about their local mining heritage from which ideas can be used in other Regions.
- An important learning point is that concentrating time and resources into one large project, rather than many small projects, can result in a larger impact.
- The Man Engine toured the UK in 2018. The feasibility of a European Man Engine tour in 2020 is being examined. Regions may be able to take direct advantage of the Man Engine by inviting it to their region.