THOUGH the year of Durham Remembers events is coming to an end, the opportunities to discover the story of the Durham Light Infantry and the county’s brave servicemen is far from over.
The DLI Collection, with its 15,000 items and artefacts – the majority of which have not been on public view before – is at the heart of that.
And from its home at a brand new research and study centre at Sevenhills, in Spennymoor, curators are working to offer greater access to the county’s military heritage than ever before.
Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, arts and culture, said: “The DLI Collection is very wide ranging and we have taken time to work out both how best to care for it and the best way for people to access it.
“At Sevenhills, we can for the first time, with the help of the Friends of the DLI, offer access to the collection’s extensive library of books, magazines and reference materials.
“While the new, specially designed secure stores mean we can properly look after the many uniforms, weapons, paintings, memorials, equipment and other wonderful objects, and give researchers and families the chance to see them for themselves, which is not something that we could previously offer.
“Parts of the collection will be used in public exhibitions, like the recent Somme 1916: From Durham to the Western Front, which brought thousands of people to Durham’s Unesco World Heritage Site.
“And our education outreach team is taking the collection out into the community, with workshops for schools and local history groups.
“Medals are available to view by appointment and on demand at the Barker Reading Room, in Palace Green Library, near Durham Cathedral.
“And the DLI archives, including diaries, letters, photos and maps can be viewed – as they have for many years – by appointment at Durham County Record Office in County Hall.
“All of this will ensure the bravery of our Durham soldiers will never be forgotten.”
A preview of a new, five-year, semi-permanent exhibition on the history of the DLI will be unveiled at Palace Green Library by November 11, with the exhibition itself opening in March 2017.
Efforts to commemorate Durham soldiers will also continue with the installation of six more Victoria Cross stones across the county, commemorating those men whose exceptional gallantry 100 years ago was recognised with the highest military honour.