Can we do more to support Nottinghamshire culture and heritage in tourism?

The 30th annual Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest Country Park, re-telling the story of Robin Hood
The 30th annual Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest Country Park, re-telling the story of Robin Hood

Nottinghamshire is a county with a vast literary and cultural history. From Lord Byron, to DH Lawrence and Robin Hood, it should be a tourism goldmine.

But, with the announcement of the possible closure of a heritage centre dedicated to one of the county’s most famous literary sons, we ask are we doing enough to

attract tourists into the county?

Hundreds and thousands of people flock to Nottinghamshire each year to visit tourist attractions such as Sherwood Forest and Newstead Abbey and take a glance into the county’s history and culture.

But are we getting it right? The Tales of Robin Hood – a mechanised attraction similar to York’s Jorvik Viking Centre – closed and Nottingham Castle is little more than a Victorian Hall - as for Lord Byron – isn’t he buried somewhere in Hucknall?

And now, the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre – a museum dedicated to the life and work of the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Sons and Lovers author – faces closure as a Broxtowe Borough Council cost-cutting measure.

Tourism experts and marketeers say they are doing plenty to attract more visitors, but our exploitation of our famous historical figures, writers, artists and the like, pails into insignificance when you compare it to what Shakespeare has done for the sleepy Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon, or the Bronte siblings have done for the West Yorkshire town of Haworth.

Experience Nottinghamshire say its Growing Tourism Locally campaign, which has cost £700,000 in the last three years, has netted a total of £22.1 million over the period.

So it would seem our heritage figures are doing wonders for the local economy and tourist centres.

However, last week, a Broxtowe council report recommended shutting the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre in Eastwood to “save money”.

And supporters of the building, which includes an exhibition about Nottinghamshire when Lawrence lived there, branded the idea “disastrous”.

Much of the author’s canon is set around Nottinghamshire – from his home town of Eastwood to the former mining communities around Mansfield and Worksop.

Lawrence sought much of his inspiration in Nottinghamshire, and last week members of his appreciation society met Nottingham University staff and Gloria De Piero, Ashfield MP, to discuss plans for a statue in commemoration of his work in the area.

The problem was, this was announced on the same day the council’s plans to close the centre were revealed, making the planned statue a bit of a damp squib.

Ms De Piero described DH Lawrence as “one of the most celebrated writers in the world”.

Places like Stratford-upon-Avon and Haworth do an amazing job at bringing in tourists from across the globe to peer into the lives of their famous literary offspring.

Almost the entire economy of these towns is, in one way or another dependent on their cultural heritage.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though as it was announced in August that the future of the controversial Sherwood Forest visitor centre has finally been secured in a landmark £5.3 million deal - likely to be signed before the end of this month.

Sherwood Forest, home to the mighty Robin Hood, attracted 371,315 visitors last year. That is a rise of almost eight per cent in just a year.

Let’s hope that puts an end to

the sneaky and completely unjustified moves from Yorkshire folk to claim the outlaw as their own – they have, at least, had the brains to name an airport after him in Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield.

Experience Nottinghamshire, which co-ordinates and promotes the tourism industry in the region, says it is doing a good job of promoting heritage in the county, but its resources are limited. Erin Huckle, for Experience Nottinghamshire, said: “We work closely with our partners to make the most of the tourism offer in Nottinghamshire, and heritage attractions are essential to the offer, with more than 2.7m people visiting heritage attractions in Nottinghamshire last year alone. Of course, there is always more that could be done, but we have to work within the budgets we have, and we do this by making the most of our relationship with VisitEngland.

What do you think?