Superstar’s Sussex scene available as anniversary photo opportunity
It’s been a long, long time but now you can tell everybody there is the chance to follow in the footsteps of Sir Elton John and be pictured in the same spot as one of his album covers.
The singer visited the Bluebell Railway in Sussex for the cover of his 1970 album Tumbleweed Connection. He and lyricist Bernie Taupin were photographed outside the museum at the heritage line’s Sheffield Park station.
The original photograph was taken by photographer Ian Digby Ovens with the Victorian station used to represent the album’s rural Americana concept.
Bluebell Railway museum curator Tony Drake said: “Late one afternoon I was locking up the museum when a young couple came along and declared, ‘It must be here’. I inquired as to what was ‘here’ and they told me the story of Elton John and the cover for his album Tumbleweed Connection.
“They then proceeded to take photographs with the gentleman sat where Elton appears on the album cover. This year is 50 years since the album was released and the Bluebell Railway is celebrating 60 years of operating as a heritage line so we thought it would be a good idea to encourage Elton’s fans to come and take their picture at the scene.”
The railway’s museum team discovered some of the enamel signs that were outside the building in 1970 had been moved to other parts of the railway and so have put them all back in the same positions and cleaned them ready for the photo opportunity. They include signs for Sunlight soap, Rowntree’s chocolates, Mazawattee tea, Shelvey’s mineral waters and Rajah cigars.
The Nestle’s milk chocolate bar dispensing machine had also been relocated to another station on the Bluebell line since Elton John’s visit but it was “still standing”. It too was moved back into position and repainted by the museum’s volunteers.
Visitors to the Bluebell Railway have now started posing as Elton John and recreating the album cover including using photo-editing software to produce black-and-white images to match the feel of the original photograph. The railway is encouraging visitors to share their images on social media.
Tumbleweed Connection was Elton John’s third studio album and it reached No. 2 in the UK album charts even though there were no hit singles.
Sir Elton is just one of many singers who have visited the Bluebell Railway or used its period stations for promotional filming since it opened as a heritage line in August 1960. Others include Cilla Black, Ringo Starr, Sheena Easton and Pet Shop Boys.
The railway reopened on 7 August this year after being closed for 20 weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. Access to the museum on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park is restricted to people who have bought tickets for one of the railway’s train services. All tickets have to be pre-booked online.