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Still Standing Tall... 63 Years On!

On July 24th 2015, it was 63 years to the day since Nottingham's world famous Robin Hood Statue was unveiled to the general public to proudly stand beneath the Castle walls and remind visitors of the City's traditional links with the legendary outlaw. The anniversary prompted me to take a look at some of the other Robin Hood images around the County and to also reflect on a few other statues around the world with legendary connections.

In Edwinstowe village High Street, to acknowledge the belief that the local church was where they were supposedly married, there is a statue of Robin Hood proposing to Maid Marian and out at the near-by Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre there is a fibreglass statue of Robin fighting Little John on a bridge and a more recent one of Robin firing his bow, which had formerly been a central feature of the food court at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Village situated just off junction 28 of the M1 motorway.At Thoresby Hall there is a small statue of Robin Hood aiming his bow and arrow from a kneeling position that was made in 1949 by Tussaud-Birt, the grandson of the creator of London's famous waxworks. It is currently situated in the courtyard of the Stable Block, close to the craft workshops and a gallery. The stone statue has unfortunately lost some of its detail due to it being exposed to the elements but it still provides a popular feature where visitors can pose for a photograph.

However, there is plenty of detail to be found in the two carvings of Robin Hood and Little John that support the wooden fireplace surround in the adjacent Thoresby Hotel and a few miles to the south-west, similar figures can be seen carved into the stonework of Archway House near Worksop Priory, together with those of Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Allan-a-Dale and King Richard I.

The most significant Robin Hood statue to have been commissioned in more recent years was at the appropriately named Robin Hood Airport, near Doncaster, when the 10ft. high contemporary styled figure was unveiled in 2007 by the two celebrated locally-born actors, Sean Bean and Brian Blessed.

Looking further afield, I discovered that around the globe there are various statues of legendary figures from traditional historical folklore and here in the UK and Ireland they include the statue of King Arthur in Winchester (where the Round Table is displayed in the Cathedral); a Rob Roy statue at Culter Burn, near Peterculter, Aberdeen and a Molly Malone statue "wheels her wheelbarrow" in Grafton Street, Dublin. Notable statues in other countries worth mentioning are those of William Tell, in the small town of Altdorf in Switzerland; the Pied Piper statue in the Market Place in Hamelin and another classic statue of King Arthur that appears in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was held in captivity in 1192 by Leopold V, Duke of Austria.

The fact that there is a statue of Alice in Wonderland in New York's Central Park and one of Sherlock Holmes, near 221B Baker Street, London also shows that even imaginary characters from literature get recognised for their appeal in popular culture and subsequently exploited for their tourism potential.

Ironically, the symbolic, bronze Robin Hood Statue on Castle Road, (together with the surrounding wall plaques and groups of smaller statuary), was commissioned in 1949 by a local businessman, Phillip Clay to provide something tangible for visitors to see relating to the internationally known English folk hero's legendary traditional connections to Nottingham. Thank goodness for his visionary generosity - because even today, 63 years later, without his gift to the City, visitors to Nottingham would STILL have nothing to see that focused on Robin Hood –and statistics clearly show that the legendary outlaw is one of the key reasons for the majority of family tourism visits! For a City that promotes itself as being "creative", to the eyes of the outside world, Nottingham's apparent failure to fully capitalise on its globally famous Robin Hood "brand" simply beggars belief !