Following the Tin Man

By | Category: Travel news
PICTURE BY MIKE THOMAS

PICTURE BY MIKE THOMAS

Wandering through Devon and Cornwall in the next few weeks holidaymakers might run into the Cornish Mining Man Engine, a twelve-metre tall mechanical puppet.

Weighing nearly 40 tonnes, he is the largest mechanical puppet ever made in Britain and was entirely constructed in Cornwall.

It’s all part of the 10th anniversary of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape being added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. What it also achieves is attracting tourists to see this smoking metal structure that looks like something out of a Hollywood epic. Since it started its journey on Monday, families and holidaymakers have been diverting from their hotels to catch a glimpse and – in some cases – follow the Mining Man around. After all, when are likely to see another?

On Monday he was in Tavistock, strolling the streets and joined by singers and the “puppeteers” who control the mechanism. “He” is now on a 130 mile trip that will take in Lostwithiel today, St Austell tomorrow and Truro on Saturday. Next week, Hayle, Camborne, Penzance and St Just will see the man. In all, “he” will appear in 20 places during “his” journey. For a full itinerary, click here.

The Mining Man reminds us of the industrial heritage of Cornwall and in particular, tin so “he” sports 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 flanges and rivets throughout and hands that reflect massive 20th century excavators.

Visiting industrial sites is become popular amongst tourists, witness the success of Big Pit in Blaenavon in South Wales, the Cite des Sciences in Belval in Luxembourg and the Ruhr Museum in the former coal washing plant of the Zollverein Coal Mine in Germany.

Mining Man recalls a time when mining was one of the most important industries in the world. Towns and cities grew where none had been before. And yet mining in the UK is almost a thing of the past yet just fifty years ago, in parts of the UK, almost everybody knew someone who worked in the mines.

Without the Cornish tin miners would we have the Cornish Pasty? And would Mexico have a museum dedicated to the version that developed there as a result of Cornish miners working in the country?

You can follow the Mining man up to and including August 6th.

Incidentally, crowdfunding is being used to pay for the Mining Man. If you would like to support the apeal, click here

 

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