CURATORS are encouraging more people to discover the DLI Collection at the “fantastic” new DLI Research and Study Centre at Sevenhills.
In 2016, more than 85 pallets of artefacts, bearing the Collection’s 10,000 objects including uniform, weapons, equipment and relics, were carefully transferred to a new, specially created, more spacious storage facility near Spennymoor, where they could be better cared for.
Now families are being invited to visit the centre’s research library – which has the anti-tank gun manned by Victoria Cross winner Pte Adam Wakenshaw at its centre – to take a store tour, and see the work being done to preserve the Collection’s objects for generations to come.
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Museums, heritage and collections manager Gillian Kirkbride said: “People are welcome to make an appointment with a curator and we can get out items and take them through their history, show them objects they won’t have seen, and help to tell the story of the DLI.
“By contacting us in advance we can talk about what they want to see, perhaps if they have a particular research interest or want to see more than one item, and then when they come we can ensure they have a really high quality visit.
“We’ll also be offering public store tours on a frequent basis, which is something we couldn’t previously do, so people can come and see behind the scenes, be shown the Collection and hear some stories we’ve not told before.”
The research and study centre, which sits with Durham Learning Resources and Library Support Services at Sevenhills, includes more than 1,500 periodicals and books that were not previously available to the public.
It also has capacity for the Collection to continue to grow, through recent donations such as embroidered First World War Christmas cards sent by Pte Andrew Miller, and the effects of Cpl Tommy Crawford.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, volunteers – many of whom are ex-servicemen, and members of the Friends of the DLI or DLI Association – are on hand to share their experience.
Volunteer Eddie Castling said: “I think Sevenhills is fantastic – what we had before was nothing like it. It has opened up a very good collection, some of which we’ve never seen before in our life.
“It’s a more global service – you have the objects, the history, the books and a research facility, so hopefully it’s a more embracing package, offering a better, expert service.
“What we need is for people to come and see it so they’re not just hearing rhetoric, or reading things on Facebook.
No, it is not a lot of glass cases, but it is a lot of new things and we have to move forward.”
For more information about the DLI Collection visit durham.gov.uk/dlicollection. To organise a visit to Sevenhills call 03000 266 631, email firstname.lastname@example.org or, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 3pm, just follow the signs from the A167 to the DLI Research and Study Centre.