Volvo L220G wheel loader powers ‘Man Engine’ in UK

Volvo Construction Equipment machine powers 10m-high mechanical puppet built to celebrate the UK’s mining history

Over the course of a 50-minute ceremony, the Man Engine is erected from a transport height of 4.5m to a height of over 10m.
Over the course of a 50-minute ceremony, the Man Engine is erected from a transport height of 4.5m to a height of over 10m.

A Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) L220G wheel loader has been put to use power the UK’s largest ever mechanical puppet – a 10m-high metal-worked model of a Cornish miner weighing in at 40t – built to celebrate the history of the mining industry.

Setting out on 25 July, the moving, smoking ‘Man Engine’ has been on a two-week, 200km tour on the ‘Tinth’ (10th) anniversary of the creation of the ‘Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape’ World Heritage Site.

The Man Engine sports a number of mining ‘motifs’, with a giant beam engine as a rocking neck, mining ‘head gear’ sheave wheels as shoulders, cast iron flangers and rivets throughout and hands that reflect massive 20th century excavators.

The wheel loader provided by Volvo has acted as the Man Engine’s puppeteer, aiding the supporting crew to erect the machine from its 4.5m transport height and animate it as part of theatrical show.

At each location along its route the machine has been erected to a height of almost three double decker buses over the course of a 50-minute ceremony accompanied by the singing of local choirs.

The brainchild of Will Coleman of Cornwall’s Golden Tree Productions, the Man Engine was designed and overseen by Hal Sylvester, a big puppet specialist, and team of engineers, fabricators, welders, smoke and lighting experts and artists, from right across Cornwall and the South West of the UK.

Volvo Construction Equipment were approached by Golden Tree Productions in November 2015 and loaned the L220G to the project free of charge while its product specialists supported the production company to ensure the machine and puppet would work together effectively and safely.

Matt Game, Sales Support Manager at Volvo CE noted: “After careful evaluation we felt that the L220G would work best on this project due to its lifting capacity and overall stability.”

Will Coleman of Golden Tree Productions commented: “Kernow, our horn-shaped granite kingdom of Cornwall, is a tiny 0.002% of the planet’s surface, yet beneath our rocky shores can be found samples of more than 90% of all mineral species ever identified … millions of years in the making.”

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