Q: What is the Gallery and why is it here?
A: The DLI Collection Gallery: Courage, Comrades, Community tells the story of the Durham Light Infantry from its inception as the 68th Regiment of Foot in 1758 to its amalgamation into the Light Infantry (and later The Rifles) in 1968. It focuses on the men who served with the regiment and the connection the Regiment had with the people of County Durham. It is hoped that having a dedicated Gallery at the centre of Durham City on the UNESCO World Heritage Site will help to raise the profile of the Regiment, its historic links to the county and the North East and the opportunity to carry out further research for those interested.
Q: Is there a charge to see the Gallery?
A: No, we want as many people as possible to learn about the history of the DLI . The Gallery also acts as a window to the DLI Collection Research and Study Centre at Sevenhills, Spennymoor. For mor information about the Centre please click here.
Q: Is this a replacement for the DLI Museum?
A: No. The DLI Museum had a special place in the hearts of many people but rising costs, cuts to local authority budgets and falling numbers meant that it was no longer sustainable to retain an offer at Aykley Heads. All the partners, however, were very keen that visitors from across the world still had the opportunity to learn more about the DLI and men who served with it. The combination of having a Gallery at the heart of Durham City and the opportunity to carry our further research into the collections at the DLI Collection Research and Study Centre or, for those interested in medals, at Palace Green Library allows more people to discover the history of the Regiment.
Q. What can visitors expect to see?
Visitors can expect to see a selection of objects from the DLI Collection including uniform, medals, weapons and silverware. These range from some of the earliest items in the collection (such as the Lambton Cap) to the present day (such as a poppy from the recent Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation from the Tower of London). Visitors can see old favourites such as the Durham Light Infantry Cup (known as the Lahore Trades Cup and once said to be the largest football trophy in the world) to never before displayed items such as the stained glass window from a temporary church erected by the DLI while they were stationed overseas. There will also be a selection of medals on display including two Victoria Crosses and an Order of the Bath.
Q, What approach has been taken in the Gallery?
The DLI Collection Gallery has been interpreted and designed to celebrate and commemorate the history of the Durham Light Infantry throughout its long history. The Gallery begins with a timeline that provides a chronological overview of the Regiment’s history with rest of the gallery being interpreted thematically based on the concepts of courage, comrades and community. The gallery has been interpreted and designed to provide a balanced, non-clichéd interpretation–accurately representing those who served, without glorifying or vilifying war.
Q. Who is this Gallery aimed at?
A. The themes of the gallery have been chosen to appeal to a wide and diverse audience, from those familiar with or connected to the DLI to visitors who may never have heard of the Regiment.The means of interpretation have also been chosen to meet the needs of a diverse audience. A consultation exercise that took place in Spring/Summer 2016 showed that most people liked text panels, labels, a timeline and audio-visual presentations. These have all been included in the Gallery. To appeal to a younger audience we have included an interactive area where visitors can play a computer game based on the history of the DLI and the objects on display. It is hoped that more content will be added to the interactive area over the next 5 years.
Q: Who has been involved in developing the Gallery?
A: The Gallery has been developed in partnership with Durham County Council, the Trustees of the DLI and Durham University. A full list of the individuals involved is on display in the Gallery.
Q: Will there be loans from other organisations?
A: The vast majority of items on display are drawn from the DLI Collection. The Gallery includes a small number of objects which have been loaned by other organisations or by private individuals. These are clearly labelled.
Q: What special arrangements have been made for the Gallery in terms of security and conditions?
A: As with all the galleries within Palace Green Library we aim to meet the highest achievable professional standards for both security and environmental conditions. This includes:
- Secure showcases complying to Government Indemnity Standards
- Monitoring of environmental conditions
- Regular custodial and security patrols
- Monitoring via CCTV
- Ensuring that all of the weapons and ordnance that are displayed as part of the Gallery have been deactivated and are displayed according to recommendations of the National Security adviser and Durham Constabulary firearms officer.
Q. Why are you using replica objects in the Gallery?
A. Although we aim to meet the highest environmental standards within all our galleries the conditions are such that we would inflict irreparable damage to some objects if they were put on permanent display. We want to ensure that these very important, often unique, items survive to tell the story of the DLI for many, many more years. Using high quality replicas means that the objects can still be included to help tell the story but at no risk to their permanent preservation.
Q: Where can I see the medals?
A: The Durham Light Infantry’s medal collection is currently on loan to Durham University and held at Palace Green Library. Medals are not on display, but members of the public are able to consult individual medals or groups of medals from the collection in the Barker Research Library within Palace Green Library. This facility is open to anyone, once they have registered with the Library, which involves completing a form and providing proof of identity. The Barker Research Library is open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday. Please contact email@example.com or 0191 3342972 to make an appointment.
Q: Where can I see other items from the DLI Collection?
A: Understandably we can only display a small selection of items from the DLI Collection in the Gallery. The rest of the Collection is stored at the DLI Collection Research and Study Centre at Sevenhills, Spennymoor. It is preferable to contact the Collections Manager ahead of a visit to ensure that the objects are available for consultation. Appointments to carry out object research are currently programmed between 10:00am and 3:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays but other times may be possible.
Contact details for the Research and Study Centre are as follows:
Greenhills Business Park
T: 03000 266631
Archival material relating to the DLI is held at Durham County Record Office. For more information please visit their website.
Q. I would like to donate some DLI material to the collection. How do I go about this?
A. Durham County Council remains interested in hearing from anyone who is considering donating material relating to the DLI to the collection. Enquiries about donating paper-based material such as papers, photographs, service records etc should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enquiries about the donation of objects should be directed to email@example.com
Q: What else is happening?
A: We will be holding a number of events focused on the DLI and the DLI Collection. These will be advertised once all details are confirmed.
Q: What opportunities are there for schools to learn more about the DLI?
A: Children can get hands on with items of the DLI Collection through a series of classroom based workshops which take the story of the Durham Light Infantry into schools. Some of the 15,000 items of the collection including: flags; medals; replica weapons and uniforms can be brought to your classroom or community group by the DLI learning officers who will deliver a lesson, tied in to the National Curriculum. Sessions offer a unique opportunity to explore contemporary sources and hold genuine objects once used by DLI soldiers and their families and are available for both primary and secondary age school children.
For more information and details of how to book please see http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/9826/Learning-with-the-DLI-Collections