Visitors to Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site will be able to discover the history of the Durham Light Infantry thanks to a new, free gallery opening this Saturday. (March 11, 2017)

The DLI Collection Gallery – ‘Courage, Comrades, Community’, at Durham University’s Palace Green Library, draws on the DLI Collection to chart the distinguished role of the regiment in more than 200 years of conflict across the globe.

The gallery is a partnership between Durham County Council, Durham University and the Trusties of the DLI Collection.

Cllr Neil Foster, the council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, arts and culture, said: “This new, free gallery allows us to bring the stories of the Durham soldiers to the busy and historic heart of our city, making it easily accessible to the hundreds of thousands of people we attract each year.

“It enables us to showcase some items that have never been seen before, and – through interactive elements – means the voices of former servicemen can be heard.

“The gallery is the latest addition to the wide-ranging commemorative offer we are able to give to the public, thanks to partnership working with the Trustees of the DLI collections and other organisations, and means the service and sacrifice of our county’s men, women and families will reach a much wider audience.”

The new gallery tells the story of the Durham soldier and highlights the special place the regiment has in the lives of the people of County Durham. Visitors will be able to see objects that have never been on display before as well as some favourites from the collection.

These include the magnificent Lahore Trades Cup, uniform and medals, a wonderful engraved glass goblet dating from the early nineteenth century and a church window that was handcrafted by DLI soldiers serving overseas.  

The chairman of the DLI Trustees, Col. James Ramsbotham, said the new Courage, Comrades, Community exhibition, will help ensure an “exciting future” for the collection.

“Though the regiment no longer exists, having become the Light Infantry in 1968, then the Rifles in 2007, the DLI Collection is very highly respected and means so much to so many people, so we must ensure that the DLI story continues to be told.

“The regiment’s motto was ‘Faithful’ and that was not just faithful in battle but to the people of the county.

“One hundred years ago I don’t think there would have been one house that was not involved with the DLI in one way or another, but while looking back to the bravery and sacrifices of the past, we must ensure, like the regiment itself, that we are forward looking.

“That is what Courage, Comrades, Community is part of – a refreshing and reinvigorating way we tell the DLI story for future generations, ensuring that our proud history is celebrated in the manner it so richly deserves.”

Dr Keith Bartlett, director of culture for Durham University, says “Durham University is proud to be a partner in this exciting project that commemorates the DLI, the regiment in which so many of its students and staff have served. The University has long demonstrated its commitment to the community in which it sits and we look forward to welcoming both local visitors and those from further afield.”

The new gallery is free to access and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 4.45pm and Mondays from noon until 4.45pm.

Last autumn, the council opened the new DLI Research and Study Centre at Sevenhills and more of the stories and the collection are also available via the DLI Archives at Durham County Record Office.

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