WEIRD UK NEWS: Man spends almost 20 years building a railway outside his home

A TRAIN buff concerned about his family’s mobility in old age has built a 50ft railway up a hillside that leads to his home. Engineer Allan Pyne, 54, has spent most of his life working on railways, and so he turned to what he knew when he faced a problem at home. His house is perched on a steep hill – and noticed many neighbours moved when they became too old to tackle the steps to their front door.

But Allan was determined to stay and has spent nearly 20 years creating his own railway to make that possible. The track, in Dawlish, Devon, complete with tracks, carriage, and a huge winch. He and his wife are now able to tackle the climb by activating the track using just a simple remote control.

Now complete, the couple said they could now see out the rest of their lives in their seaview home and had no reason to leave. Allan, a railway signal engineer, said: “We’ve lived here for 20 years and people tend to leave the street because they can’t manage the steps to their homes because they’re too steep. “We’ve got a lovely spot with a view of the sea and it’s too nice to sell up and move.

“I wanted to come up with a solution so I started digging.” Allan, who lives with his wife, Rachel, began work in 2002 and over the past 18 years he has shifted 150 tonnes of earth and rubble. He admits it’s taken a while, but said he worked on the project ‘on and off’ when he wasn’t working away from home.

He added: “We had steps and I dug out the garden so there was a gradual incline, so that I could lay a track. “The track is now two feet wide and there’s a truck, like an old miners truck but without the bucket on top. “Now me and my wife can get on this track and get winched to the top, by clicking ‘up’ on the remote control – it’s like a TV remote.”

Allan said the project has cost them around GBP15,000, mostly in skip hire as he completed the physical labour himself. But that’s nothing compared to the value added to his property, which Allan said he couldn’t begin to estimate but has been reported elsewhere as GBP30,000. Allan, who volunteers for the Railway Children Charity, added: “It’s not quite finished, we’ve still got things to do.

It will be another year until it’s completed, but it is functional. “I’m an engineer and did it all myself, but I’m not a civil engineer – I work on signals. “Over 30 years in the industry I have picked up lots of skills by watching my colleagues work, so I just gave it a go.

“My wife thought I was mad at the beginning but now she gets on with the shipping and gets winched to the top, so she’s on board now.

“It will be more and more useful in years to come.”

Allan and Rachel have two grown up children, neither of which live at home.

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