The huge mechanical puppet, which resembles a giant miner, is set to visit eight of south Wales’s most important industrial heritage locations for a week of celebrations from 08 – 12 April 2018.
The colossal engineering miracle will visit Big Pit, Blaenavon Ironworks, Parc Bryn Bach in Tredegar, 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”.
Designed to celebrate the rich mining heritage of south Wales, each stop on the Man Engine’s tour of Wales will offer bespoke spectacles, from gripping theatrics and nostalgic choral renditions, to traditional Welsh storytelling and even an awe inspiring after-dark fire show.
Tickets for the events at Blaenavon Ironworks, Parc Bryn Bach, Cyfarthfa Park and Castle and Hafod-Morfa Copperworks are now available via the Man Engine website.
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, four local authorities (Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, 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, receiving £135,000 from Visit Wales, and a further £25,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, all with the aim of prompting further nationwide dialogue around the legacy of Wales’s historic mining communities.
The epic tour will tell the story of how the Industrial Revolution shaped Wales and in turn, how Wales shaped the world — from the technological innovation formed through global trading links and industrial partnerships, to the experiences and endeavour of Wales’s working people, which led to social innovation, political reform and the birth of the NHS.
As a giant symbol of global mining and new ambassador for Wales’s mining heritage, the Man Engine will meet key historical characters on his route through the south Wales Coalfields, both celebrating the achievements and commemorating the sacrifices of Wales’s industrial past.
Animated by a team of more than a dozen ‘miners’, the giant puppet will begin its grand tour of Wales on 08 April, with an opening ceremony at Big Pit National Coal Museum and a parade down to Blaenavon Ironworks, where visitors can ‘meet’ 19th-century industrial hero, Sidney Gilchrist Thomas.
Next stop will be Parc Bryn Bach in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent on 09 April – a gem of Welsh industry transformed into a beautiful country park. The event will celebrate Wales as the home of the NHS, highlighting how local miners, quarrymen and iron workers funded our health service, as founded by former Ebbw Vale MP Aneurin Bevan.
On 10 April, the Man Engine will visit Cyfarthfa Park and Castle — the grand former home of Ironmaster William Crawshay II and his family. Visitors will be encouraged to raise their voices in song and watch as the Man Engine rises from its slumber and ‘crawls’ towards the castle, meeting some of Merthyr’s most significant historical figures on the way.
Meanwhile, the monumental machine will ‘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 Lenox & Co Ltd, where Rhondda coal was used to produce the anchors and chains that furnished the Admiralty and famous passenger liners including the Queens Mary and the QE2.
The tour will culminate on 12 April with nostalgic displays outside the National Waterfront Museum Swansea, a City Centre parade to celebrate the city’s 300-year copper-smelting tradition and an evening finale at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks, which will come to life with a dramatic fire and light show.
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 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 Wales’s 2018 Year of the Sea.
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.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas said: “Life in the Valleys, as in many other industrial communities across the UK, revolved around iron, copper and coal for hundreds of years. The arrival of the Man Engine in south Wales marks a unique chance for the people of Wales to reflect on and remember their industrial heritage.
“The south Wales Valleys is an ideal location for the mechanical giant to visit and I urge everyone to come and see this culturally significant reminder of our mining heritage in Wales.”
Will Coleman, the creator of the Man Engine 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.”
Cllr David Davies Executive Member for Regeneration & Economic Development said: “Parc Bryn Bach has been transformed from years mining into a beautiful country park that is now a haven for wildlife and recreation. The town of Tredegar is synonymous with Aneurin Bevan MP and the National Health Service. We look forward celebrating this proud history with Man Engine and all the visitors who will join us on the day.”
Managing Director of Aneurin Leisure, Anthony Hughes said: “this is a fantastic opportunity for us as we host such a variety of large events at Parc Bryn Bach but this is something different. People can watch Man Engine and also experience what the park has to offer, great activities both on and off the water, set in beautiful surroundings.”
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 secure advance tickets for “Man Engine Cymru: forging a nation” and for more information on the magnificent Man Engine visit https://www.themanengine.co.uk/
Event: Man Engine in Blaenau Gwent
Date: 09 April 2018
Venue: Parc Bryn Bach, Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent
Info: Visitors are invited to meet the Man Engine – the moving, steaming, mechanical miner – as he visits a community steeped in coal mining history and the history of the National Health Service. The Man Engine will come face to face with Aneurin Bevan MP and the miners, colliers, quarrymen and ironworkers who clubbed together to form Tredegar Workingmen’s Medical Aid Society.
Time: 12pm – 4pm
Price: £3.00 each
Booking: Advance tickets can be booked via Ticketsource. https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/460890
Man Engine – fast facts
The Man Engine is the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, ‘crawling’ at 4m high and transforming to ‘stand’ at 11.2m high.
150,000 proud visitors came to see it during its 2016 tour of Cornwall.
The Man Engine’s April tour will mark its first ever visit to Wales.
The 2018 Resurrection Tour will start in Cornwall and Devon before heading to Somerset, south Wales, Derbyshire, Shropshire and Yorkshire.
Entirely engineered in Cornwall, it was designed and created by Golden Tree Productions.
It won the title of ‘Best Arts Project’ in the National Lottery Awards 2017.
The Man Engine was created to honour the grit, determination, labours and innovation of the mining industry and all who toiled within it.