FROM Saturday, 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.

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

Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, arts and culture, said: “This new, free gallery allows us to bring the story of the Durham soldier to the historic and tourist heart of our city, making it easily accessible to the hundreds of thousands of visitors we attract each year.

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

“Hopefully,it will be a starting pointfor more and more people to find out about the service and sacrifice of our county’s men, women and families, through the new DLI Research and Study Centre at Sevenhills, the DLI Archives at Durham County Record Office, the DLI medals or by visiting the DLI chapel and garden at Durham Cathedral or the DLI statue in the Market Place.”

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 19th Century and a church window that was handcrafted by DLI soldiers serving overseas.

The chairman of the DLI Trustees, James Ramsbotham, said the new gallery would help ensure an “exciting future” for the collection.

“Though the regiment no longer exists, having become the Light Infantry in 1968 and 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,” he said.

“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 in the county 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 of the way we tell the DLI story for future generations, ensuring that our proud history is celebrated in the manner it so richly deserves.”

  • Courage, Comrades, Community opens in Palace Green Library in Durham City on Saturday, March 11. Admission is free. The gallery is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday and noon to 5pm on Mondays.​

The Northern Echo:

MEDALS

FAMILIES, historians and researchers can all access the medals of DLI soldiers while visiting Palace Green to see the new DLI Gallery.

The collection, which includes over 3,000 medals awarded to more than 1,000 men, has been loaned from DLI Collection’s base at Sevenhills, near Spennymoor, to Durham University.

That means visitors can discover the history of the regiment then learn more from the honours awarded to those who served everywhere from the Peninsular War against Napoleon 200 years ago to the DLI’s last campaign in Borneo in 1966.

Medals, ranging from local medals presented to DLI soldiers by the grateful people of Sedgefield and Sacriston to Britain’s highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, a Victoria Cross, are not on display but can be viewed by appointment.

Individual medals or groups of medals from the Collection can be accessed via the Barker Research Library, within Palace Green Library.

The facility is open to anyone – 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday – once they have registered with the library, which involves completing a form and providing proof of identity.

  • For more information or to make an appointment visit www.dur.ac.uk/palace.green, email pg.library@durham.ac.uk or call 0191 3342972.