25 August 2020

Cornish engineering students create a “Puffing Devil” for the Cornish Mining World Heritage version of Cornish Caretakers

Cornish engineering and carpentry students have created a replica of the famous "Puffing Devil". This is Camborne inventor and engineer Richard Trevithick’s first steam powered road vehicle.

Edward Rowe supplied engineering students at Cornwall College, St Austell, with a design brief to create the steam engine. It is being used as part of his Cornish Caretakers performance. Rowe is also known as the Kernow King and star of Cornish film Bait.

The performance is currently touring primary schools throughout the World Heritage Site and beyond in Cornwall and West Devon.  The children will enjoy a performance celebrating different aspects of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Site. They will then take part in an immersive learning workshop. They will handle mineral samples, learn about mining characters and even play a Cornish Mining board game created for the tour!

The Cornish Caretakers show has previously educated school children on the work of Cornwall Heritage Trust and Kresen Kernow. It has been excellently well-received across Cornwall.

The current version of the show will star Edward Rowe alongside Cornish actress Kate Edney as the “Cornish Caretakers”. The show has been created by Palores Productions and Cornish Director Simon Harvey. They have used mineral samples and historic background to produce an engaging and exciting production. Performances are tailored specifically for primary school children. Samples and background information provided by the World Heritage Site team.

Edward has explained that the engineering students have “brought something special back to life." He added, "It seems so authentic and I am thrilled. It’s fantastic.”

Edward had already worked with the College on a similar project for his ‘Trevithick’ show. His design brief for this Puffing Devil was to make it smaller and more manageable to transport to local primary schools.

The latest project utilised all the engineering milestones and key skills the students had learned on their course.

Carpentry students also added their skills. The students worked collaboratively to bring the woodwork and engineering together. This improved communication skills between the students which is key within all trades.

Level 2 Engineering student at Cornwall College, Jack Spencer, said working on this project was “brilliant”.

“I feel I’ve really improved on my existing skills and we can show future employers a fantastic project which we have worked on.

“The steam engine is very realistic, it puffs and it has a smoke machine inside. I think it is brilliant that Kernow King will really encourage more young people to get into engineering.”

Jack explained there were some challenges with the build, but everyone worked as a team to overcome them.

Luke Bazeley is the Course Manager for Engineering at Cornwall College St Austell. He said the students should be “really proud of how well they have worked as a team." He continued,

"Our next project is a full size transformer robot statue to greet students and visitors to the Skills Centre here on campus. Projects like this really does enhance the students skill sets and adds to the individuals CV so when potential employers ask what extra the student has done they can show them these projects.”

The Level 2 Engineering course covers machining, welding and electrical engineering. It gives the students exposure to all areas of engineering so they can establish which path they choose to take upon completion. This can be either gaining an apprenticeship or progressing to the Level 3 engineering course.

The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site team have been thrilled to be able to support this version of Cornish Caretakers. Having current engineering students involved has added so much value. The show is a fantastic celebration of our mining history and heritage. It is sure to inspire the next generation of world changing engineers and miners!