WHEN Chris Bedford was in school, he did not like the nickname Dumpman.

“There was a rubbish tip in a nearby village and at the end of the day it was where everybody went to have a smoke,” the amateur documentary maker said.

“Since I was always trying to get out of any physical exercise I used to always go there, so I was the guy always at the dump.

“So everyone called me Dumpman and I hated it.”

Fast forward to 2020 and the nickname has transformed from playground insult to underground hero.

Chris, now 50, has spent the last two decades speeding around Sussex’s abandoned railways on his Raleigh Chopper bike, battered tape camcorder in hand, as part of his amateur filmmaking firm Dumpman Films.

The Argus: The overgrown subway of abandoned Singleton stationThe overgrown subway of abandoned Singleton station

His equipment may seem dated but Chris’s low-tech approach is intentional.

No editing or voiceovers here, just shooting and speaking.

Blu-ray or digital download? Forget that, he only does DVD.

“I never upgraded the camera, I think it’s more punk rock that way,” said Chris, who lives in Henfield. I still used a Sony Hi8 camcorder on tape then transfer it to a DVD recorder.

“I know nothing about computers other than that. Some people will say it looks better, but the truth is I’ve got too lazy to learn any other way.”

While not making a living from it, Dumpman Films has earned Chris a steady underground fanbase thanks to his willingness to go off piste.

The Argus: Ruins of the old Devil's Dyke railwayRuins of the old Devil's Dyke railway

As well as scrambling through overgrowth on derelict railways, Chris has documented the asbestos-ridden remains of Shoreham Cement Works and trudged through knee-high water in flooded Second World War bunkers.

So what exactly is the thrill?

“If you go to one of the these places and it’s all overgrown and abandoned, you feel like you’re the first person there,” Chris said.

“It’s an amazing feeling.

“There’s nothing better than scrambling through nettles and ending up in front of a massive train tunnel.

“ I just love looking into and talking about all the work that went into these beautiful buildings.

“You see some beautiful nature too. The most memorable time was when I saw an albino squirrel on an old line near Heathfield.”

The Argus: An old goods shed at derelict Singleton stationAn old goods shed at derelict Singleton station

Naturally Chris’s mission to seek out Sussex’s secret spots has occasionally got him into trouble.

“What’s more difficult is getting permission to go on private land,” he said.

“Usually I try and find the landlord first.

“But sometimes it’s best to hop over the fence and hope for the best.

“They’re usually very understanding when you explain it to them. Only once or twice has it gone really badly.

“One time a landlord in the Isle of Wight called me angrily.

“I offered to delete the film but he said ‘No, I just wanted you to know I’m p***** off.”

The Argus: Chris on the dilapidated West Pier in 1999Chris on the dilapidated West Pier in 1999

But when Dumpman Films started in 1999 it was far from fence-hopping.

“At one point I’d been taking video of the West Pier since I was on a trip there and I was talking over it,” Chris said.

“My girlfriend at the time said ‘a lot of people would love to see that’. So I started Dumpman Films and I filmed abandoned railways with a bit of commentary. I look back on my first videos now and they could have been a lot better but people liked the chatter.

“I always tried to get my Raleigh Chopper in there too.”

In the two decades since, Chris has documented every inch of Sussex’s derelict railways.

Does he have a favourite part?

“The best place is between Midhurst and Chichester, there are huge tunnels still in place,” he said. “I run a Facebook group of abandoned rail enthusiasts and that’s always an old favourite.”

Now Chris is setting his sights further afield, angling to document Dorset’s railway relics next.

But you can view his back catalogue at dumpman.co.uk.