Veterans’ stories of how music shaped life in the Durham Light Infantry are marching into the Durham Dales as When The Bugle Calls heads to a new home.
The DLI Collection’s free touring exhibition, which has attracted hundreds of visitors to Bishop Auckland Town Hall since it opened in December, will in April move to the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues said: “When The Bugle Calls is a unique and valuable insight into life of the DLI and it has been great to see so many families already visiting it, enjoying it and learning something new.
“Military music has always been a stirring sound – The marching feet, the glistening brass and the beat and rattle of drums attract people and hold them spellbound.
“And through this exhibition we are taking new and exciting stories out to our communities, building on our offer at Palace Green, Sevenhills and Durham County Record Office, our education outreach work and over 190 hours each and every week by DLI Volunteers, who selflessly work on the DLI Collection and share their knowledge.
“We hope the people of Weardale and beyond take this opportunity to discover more about such a rich part of our collective heritage.”
The second in a series of touring exhibitions from Durham County Council and The Trustees of the Durham Light Infantry Collection, When The Bugle Calls follows on from Somme 1916: From Durham to the Western Front, which drew tens of thousands of visitors to Durham University’s Palace Green Library in 2016 before touring the wider county.
After four months it will leave Bishop Auckland Town Hall on April 14 and open at the Durham Dales Centre on 20 April 2018.
With the story of the DLI’s band at its heart it tells the tales of how both the British army and individual soldiers used music to rally their regiments, keeping morale alive in the darkest and most dangerous of times.
Curator Gillian Kirkbride, a museums, heritage and collections manager based at the DLI Research and Study Centre in Spennymoor, said: “Music is such an integral part of the DLI and British Army stories and yet it is not something we have had the opportunity to really explore before.
“From its use as a tool for communicating battlefield commands, to ceremonial purposes, music – and bugling in particular – came to shape regimental traditions.
“We’ve worked very closely with many groups including the DLI Friends, DLI Association, our Collection volunteers, to decide what stories and objects to include in the exhibition, and then with organisations such as the Durham Army Cadet Force Band and the Imperial War Museum on the music and oral histories.
“There are items which have never been on display before and stories which have never been told.”
The new exhibition explores more than two centuries of military history, from the earliest regimental musicians, to buglers in the Crimea, the lives of “band boy” soldiers such as Jimmy Durham, how Abide With Me came to be the DLI’s regimental hymn, 20th Century band leaders, and the legacy of that musical heritage today.
The free When The Bugle Calls exhibition is open Monday to Saturday, during library opening hours, at Bishop Auckland Town Hall until April 14. It will then move to the Durham Dales Centre from April 20, and be available to view every day, 11am to 4pm.
Other venues around County Durham that the touring exhibition will visit will be confirmed nearer the time.
For more information visit www.durham.gov.uk/dlicollection