Life Video

By William Lailey and Aliki Kraterou


A retired railway worker has built a fully-functional railway in his back garden during lockdown – to the dismay of his long-suffering wife.

Adrian Backshall, 59, spent just £1000 building the 10 metre long railway line in his back garden in Eastbourne, East Sussex, with a handcar that travels up and down the line and can seat four people.

His wife of 24 years, Ruth, 51, a support worker, branded his project: “very sad.”

After retiring from the railways last summer, Adrian planned to transform an old trolley car he’d got his hands on into an ornament for the garden.

But after being stuck in lockdown, he upped the project and decided to put the car on wheels – giving him a direct line across the garden.

He’s currently in ‘negotiations’ with Ruth to extend the track.

He said: “Ruth is not really happy because we have a 100ft long garden and the tracks I got are only 30ft and ideally I’d like to go all the way down to the garden but that means it would go through one of her flowerbeds so she said ‘no’.

“All my friends keep pressuring her and say ‘come on you have to extend it’ but she won’t have it.

“We are still negotiating but bribery won’t work.

“I am still very pleased with my 30ft I’ve got but I could extend it for another 50ft, go around the patio, a little station -I ‘ll keep trying, she might get fed up with gardening.”

Adrian, who was working for the British Railways for forty years, was retired last August.

He rescued the trolley from an old siding  and kept it in the garden as an ornament and bought the scrap track and sleepers from a Heritage railway in Sussex.

The pair, who live with their two dogs Mabel and Gladys moved into the property three years ago and surprisingly it was Ruth’s idea to utilise the garden’s space.

Adrian, who  says he ‘loved’ his job in the railways, decided, after his retirement to use a blacksmith’s help to turn the trolley into a carriage.

The carriage is equipped with a wood burning stove, kettle, 12-volt lighting and storage.

He eventually finished the project alone due to the lockdown and he is gutted he cannot share it with his friends.

Adrian added: “I was working for a long time, I did enjoy working in the railways, I have good memories, working walking along the tracks in the summer, good friends, great history.

“We moved in three years ago and that’s when my wife said to me ‘we have a blank garden, you might as well build a railway for the trolley’ because before it was just sitting there.

“I thought it would be a good idea to turn the trolley into a shepherds hut on wheels and my wife liked them.

“I thought the best I could do was to put a little carriage on top of the trolley and turn into an area where four people could sit, have a drink, get the wood burning, the stove going, brew a cup of tea.

“I can’t wait to get all my friends around because no one can come yet- it’s built for entertainment and we can’t entertain anyone-my dogs love going inside the trolley though. “

Ruth said: “It was my idea in the first place, I like it, it’s different and it keeps him occupied but he wants to extend it through my lovely flower border.

“I have never had a proper flower border but this one has been  successful and it’s really pretty so I am not letting him go there.

“There is a petition on Twitter, I said if there’s a million signatures I’ll think about it but it’s nowhere near- it’s never going to happen.

“I am not mean really I just  think 30ft is enough for any woman to put up with in her garden.

“It’s like going to work every morning, I always pack him lunch and say goodbye for the day, he spends all day there more or less.

“He liked his job when he was out and about, I didn’t think he liked it that much when he was in the office.”