Robin Hood: Nottingham's favourite son or forgotten hero?

ITV News Central's Correspondent Peter Bearne begins a special series on whether Nottingham should be doing more to capitalise Robin Hood

Many years ago, I was on a trip to Greece and caught a taxi from Athens airport. The Greek driver asked me where in England I was from, and I said "Nottingham".

"Ah, Nottingham," he replied, "Robin Hood".

In fact, ask anyone anywhere in the world what they think of when they think of Nottingham and you will probably get the same answer.

For 800 years, the mythical outlaw who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor has been a folk hero in his native England.

But thanks to 25 films, eight television series and countless books, plays and ballads, he is also a global brand.

Some, though, despair at what they see as the city of Nottingham's failure to make the most of its world-famous son.

Why, they ask, is there not more on offer to tourists who come to the East Midlands city in search of the legend?

We asked people living in Delaware, USA, what Robin Hood means to them...

Since November, that offering has been reduced by the closure of Nottingham Castle, where there was an exhibition about the outlaw.

Actor and historian Ade Andrews has been running Robin Hood tours of the city, dressed as the man himself, for more than 25 years.

He describes the lack of Robin Hood attractions as "a disgraceful state of affairs" and "an embarrassment".

He sees it as his duty to put on the tours to satisfy those who visit Nottingham for their Robin Hood fix.

Many are frustrated by the lack of a dedicated world-class visitor centre like the Yorvik Centre in York.

There used to be the "Tales of Robin Hood" on Maid Marian Way, an interactive exhibition which opened in 1989 but closed in 2009 because of money problems.

Since 2016, there has been a small museum made up of five rooms on Friar Lane called "The Robin Hood Experience", run by Adam Sinclair-Greenwood, a lifelong Robin Hood fan.

Some have contrasted Nottingham and Robin Hood with Leicester and King Richard III. Credit: PA

Some have contrasted Nottingham and Robin Hood with Leicester and King Richard III, suggesting Nottingham could learn a thing or two from its southerly neighbour.

The discovery of Richard's remains under a council car park in 2012 thrust Leicester into the international spotlight.

There's now an award-winning visitor centre and tourists flock to the cathedral to see Richard's tomb. According to one study, the Richard effect brought an extra £59 million into the local economy in three years.

Johnny Pusztai, a butcher from Sherwood in Nottingham, took to social media, saying: "Can someone in Nottingham please tell me why Leicester have done such a fab job on Richard the third becoming a major attraction when we have the biggest legend known on the world yet do not make anything of him such a sad thing?"

The Worldwide Robin Hood Society, based in Nottingham, estimates the outlaw could generate £300 million for the city.

Marketing Nottingham, which promotes the city as a tourist destination, acknowledges that there is more that could be done. But it also points out that Nottingham has many other feathers to its bow - over the years, the city has highlighted a range of things it has to offer visitors, as well as Robin Hood.

Robin Hood's place in his home city will continue to be hotly-debated topic.

There's no doubt that, as a global superstar, he has the potential to attract the sort of riches Robin himself could only dream of. He may have taken from the rich, but he has given Nottingham a place on the world map.

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