| Kevin Costner, who played Robin Hood on screen. (AFP)
London, April 14: The company which renamed Liverpool airport after John Lennon attempted to repeat its success yesterday by naming Doncaster and Sheffield airport after Robin Hood.
Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield airport, formerly RAF Finningley, became Britain’s latest “personality” airport and revived the debate over whether Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire has the greatest claim to the scourge of the Sheriff of Nottingham.
The old RAF base, which is to have an £80-million refurbishment to give it the capacity to handle 2.3 million passengers and 50,000 tonnes of freight a year, straddles the border between Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire 30 miles from Sherwood Forest.
Neil Pakey, commercial director of Peel Airports, said: “Robin Hood is the region’s biggest asset as a global brand to attract inbound business and regenerate the local economy. We carried out extensive market research overseas and the Robin Hood connection came head and shoulders above anything else.
“We anticipate some people won’t take the name seriously to begin with. But we want to encourage people to look at the big picture. It’s a very high-awareness brand.”
Peel Airports says that renaming Liverpool’s Speke after John Lennon has helped it to become one of the fastest growing airports in Europe, and contributed to Liverpool being selected as the European cultural city for 2008.
The company, which owns Teesside International airport as well as Liverpool John Lennon, said other historical figures were considered for Doncaster Sheffield, including Charles Darwin, the naturalist, Douglas Bader, the wartime pilot, and Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
Pakey added: “Ultimately Robin Hood was by far the best known of the options. The Robin Hood link will put the area firmly on the world map.”
There are many in Nottingham, however, who might claim that link before Sheffield and Doncaster, not least the owners of the former East Midlands airport, which has been renamed Nottingham East Midlands because the name Nottingham has greater international recognition — again because of the Robin Hood connection.
Research suggests the outlaw’s birthplace may be Loxley, Sheffield, and it is now thought most of his robbing from the rich and giving to the poor took place not in Sherwood Forest but in Barnsdale — between Barnsley and Doncaster.