The largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, the moving, steaming, mechanical Man Engine, is set to visit Wales for the very first time next year.
Announced today (13 October), the monumental Man Engine, which resembles a giant miner, will visit eight of south Wales’s most important industrial heritage locations for a week of celebrations from 08 – 12 April 2018.
The colossal feat of engineering will visit Big Pit, Blaenavon Ironworks, Ebbw Vale Steelworks, Cyfarthfa Park and Castle, Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, the National Waterfront Museum Swansea Swansea City Centre and the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks as part of his journey across Wales, entitled: “Man Engine Cymru: forging a nation”.
The Welsh tour is a collaboration among the cultural sector in Wales, with Swansea University working in partnership with the Welsh Government’s historic environment service (Cadw), Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, five local authorities (Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Swansea), Head 4 Arts and Golden Tree Productions.
The partners organised a successful bid to host the monumental puppet in south Wales, all with the aim of prompting further nationwide dialogue around the legacy of Wales’s historic mining communities.
The project has also been funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund, which aims to encourage partnership working and innovative ideas that will have a greater impact and attract more visitors.
The Welsh visit forms part of the Man Engine’s 2018 Resurrection Tour, which will see the 11.2m tall puppet steam across some of the UK’s most significant industrial heritage sites, including locations in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Derbyshire.
The team behind the Man Engine, Golden Tree Productions, are already creating a bespoke visual and aural experience for the Welsh expedition – set to include theatrical shows, live music and storytelling to highlight the rich industrial heritage of south Wales.
The 2018 tour announcement comes after the Man Engine was named the nation’s favourite arts project at the 2017 National Lottery Awards – an honour bestowed upon the giant miner following his iconic journey across the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site in the summer of 2016.
The Man Engine gained worldwide fame as he steamed across Cornwall, unearthing a deep-set passion and a cult-like following among 150,000 proud Cornish visitors.
The Welsh tour is expected to echo this sense of pride and is anticipated to attract large crowds of visitors on his journey from Blaenavon to the shores of Swansea Bay during Visit Wales’s 2018 Year of the Sea.
Animated by a team of more than a dozen ‘miners’, the giant puppet will begin his grand tour of Wales on 08 April 2018 with an opening ceremony at Big Pit National Coal Museum and a parade down to Blaenavon Ironworks, with choirs, brass bands and theatrics to bring the experience to life.
Next stop will be the Ebbw Vale Steelworks on 09 April — a gem of Welsh industry and the first site in Britain to integrate iron and steel production.
On 10 April, the Man Engine will visit Cyfarthfa Park and Castle – the former home of Ironmaster William Crawshay II and his family – offering a poignant reminder of the Ironmaster’s dominance over Merthyr and the wealth of the iron industry in the Valleys.
Meanwhile, visitors can watch the monumental machine steam into Ynysangharad War Memorial Park on 11 April.
The park is located in the proud industrial town of Pontypridd, once home to the famous Brown Lennox & Co Ltd, the official chain makers to the Admiralty.
Further information and tickets to witness the week of spectacles will be released via the Man Engine website in January.
Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, said:
“Iron, copper and coal once formed the heart of the south Wales Valleys and the arrival of the Man Engine in Wales marks a unique chance for the modern Welsh public to reflect and bring this mining heritage alive.
“The Industrial Revolution is a vital part of Welsh history and it’s more important than ever to remember the people and the places that brought it to life. This type of innovative tourism development gives people compelling reasons to visit the south Wales Valleys and is reflective of the way that the Valleys Taskforce is working with communities to develop the area’s tourism offer.
“I urge the people of south Wales to come and see this culturally significant celebration of our heritage and to follow the journey of the Man Engine to our epic shores during the 2018 Year of the Sea.”
Will Coleman, the creator of the Man Engine says, said:
“Our big boy is setting off in the footsteps of the Cornish Cousin Jacks, and we’re delighted that we’re bringing him to south Wales where mines, collieries, trams and trains once dominated the landscape.
“We have a global ambition to take the Man Engine to all the significant mining and industrial heritage sites across the world, so bringing him to south Wales with its major industrial heritage status, is an ideal stop on his UK-wide journey.
“We can’t wait to meet all the people of the Valleys and have the Man Engine share the stories and the significance of the area’s rich mining heritage.”
Visitors to see the Man Engine in Wales are being encouraged to share their epic experiences on social media by using the hashtag #ManEngineCymru.
To find out more about the “Man Engine Cymru: forging a nation” tour or to discover the story behind the magnificent Man Engine visit www.themanengine.co.uk/