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We went to See the Man Engine

The Man Engine is a monstrous Cornish Miner, created in puppet form, and riding like some vast god-figure on the back of a monstrous Volvo lorry.   We went to see him unveiled in Tavistock a few weeks ago, at the start of his trek westward through Cornwall. I just unearthed some photos.     We took the hounds with us: I might not have done that if I had realised how busy it would be, but Brythen feels quite safe when he has Pp to lean on, and Rosie seems untroubled by crowds (so strange.  This is the dog that was terrified of a falling pencil on the other side of the room).


I photographed the photographers arriving and going up onto the scaffolding prepared for them.  I particularly like the lady in the demure skirt and heels, who none the less climbed the scaffold with monkey-like skill.


To get the Man Engine to stand up, you are supposed to sing to him : Sten Sten Sten!  which is Cornish for tin, and there was quite a long song in Cornish to go with it.  But this was in Tavistock, and while Tavistock is certainly the most easterly of the Mining World Heritage site, it is also quite undeniably just over the border in Devon.  Nobody speaks Cornish!  Some people sang (I think the town council had arranged a choir) but most of the surprisingly-huge crowd just watched, while the little orange guy you can see below told us partially-audible tales of mining past, then the choir sang and the Man Engine stood up!


Frankly, he looks pretty damn scary and I was a little surprised that none of the small children present seemed alarmed.   I was alarmed!



We didn't rush away afterwards, since the Man Engine was due to leave on the same road that we use to get home, so we thought we'd stay and have some lunch (the hounds had a burger in a bun between them).     This meant that because the Man Engine took a long time to get going, we ended up as the first car behind the giant lorry!   Fortunately it didn't go as slowly as I'd feared, since the Man Engine was all bundled up to fit under the low branches in the lanes.  And people came out with Cornish flags to see it and wave it on its way, all the way over Gunnislake Bridge and up to Drakewalls mine, its next stop - although it wasn't able to stand up there, because the mine adits are very close under the surface at Drakewalls, and they didn't want to risk shifting things around to  much on the top of them.

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
lindahoyland
19th Aug, 2016 20:08 (UTC)
Fascinating.
calico_pye
19th Aug, 2016 20:37 (UTC)
We saw it too - came to Penzance. Footage here - http://calico-pye.livejournal.com/tag/man%20engine
bunn
19th Aug, 2016 21:06 (UTC)
I think most of Cornwall ended up seeing it! It was great that it got so much attention, I think in Tavistock they were quite daunted by the crowd of ?3000 ish but by the time they had got down to Penzance they were used to people arriving in hordes to see it (and the patter was a bit more polished too)
calico_pye
20th Aug, 2016 07:50 (UTC)
I agree - I think every man and his dog were at Penzance that day. Still, it was an amazing sight to behold :-)
bunn
20th Aug, 2016 08:36 (UTC)
Did you sing? Hard to tell from your vid how many did?

We didn't quite have the nerve because most people were a bit 'we're not singing in Cornish, this is DEVON' in Tavi. :-D Although we did get a good chant of 'STEN STEN STEN' going.
calico_pye
20th Aug, 2016 14:37 (UTC)
I did a bit, but only because I recognised it as Cornish pub songs :-)
the_marquis
19th Aug, 2016 20:48 (UTC)
Cool! And Pp and Brythen look very good together. By the way which dog got the bun and which the burger?

Edited at 2016-08-19 20:48 (UTC)
bunn
19th Aug, 2016 21:08 (UTC)
Ah, it was fairer than that! We cleft the burger in twain and both dogs got both bun and burger (and very pleased they were too).
puddleshark
20th Aug, 2016 06:24 (UTC)
Kids these days are made of stern stuff. I find that last shot, where he appears to be winking at me, very scary indeed...

What an amazing creation.
bunn
20th Aug, 2016 08:38 (UTC)
He presented a Thing (I forget what) to the Vice-Mayor, I think it was, and there was definitely a moment which was 'if this was a movie, this would be the point at which it would EAT the Vice-Mayor and then go on the rampage slaying all who crossed its path' :D
ladyofastolat
20th Aug, 2016 07:21 (UTC)
This is terrifying! And strange. And really rather awesome. But still terrifying. And definitely Probably Ritual - a steampunk Wicker Man, or a mining Greenwitch, which should be thrown into a mine shaft in order to ensure that they will be forever fruitful (though hopefully after removing the Volvo driver first.)
bunn
20th Aug, 2016 08:46 (UTC)
It is totally Ritual, no Probably about it! I don't know what they will do with him in the end though. I think our mines are mostly a bit past the fruitful stage!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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