Man Engine

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Penzance has a population of about 20,000 and there was a crowd of about that size to meet the Man Engine, weighing in at 40 tonnes and standing 10 meters tall, the largest mechanical puppet ever made in Britain.

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The crowd had to wait and wait as he stayed crouched under a Cornish flag half way down Market Jew Street.
He was built to celebrate the “Tinth” (groan) anniversay of UNESCO granting the Cornish mining landscape World Heritage status.

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Humphrey Davy patiently waits with his eponymous lamp as a gift.
The huge puppet had taken eleven days to crawl the 130 miles from where he was built in Devon.

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And then he did finally stand up.
Always a bit cynical about such orches­trated jollity, having to brave such a vast crowd in such a small space, and Cornish time involving a long hot wait in a sometimes fractious scrum, I was surprised by just how impress­ively steam-punkily big and beautiful he was.

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It sounds a bit naff but one of the best things about him, intimate almost, alive, is his blink … and then ten thousand people start singing The Song of the Western Men … it’s weirdly quite stirring in a sort of scary An Gof Nurem­bergy way.

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Sneaking up on the giant miner for a closer look at his internals and puppeteers.

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