A LIGHT installation to commemorate the “faith, humanity and resilience” of the people of County Durham is being unveiled to mark the centenary of the armistice.

The new sculpture, which spells the word “hope” is being installed in Durham and will be in Millennium Place from Friday, November 9 to Thursday, November 15.

It is part of Durham County Council’s efforts to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

It is composed of hundreds of colour-changing LED tubes and has speakers, which will retell the stories of local people’s experiences of the war.

Councillor Ossie Johnson, the council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, said: “As the home of Lumiere, Durham has a reputation for bringing spectacular light installations to the region.

“HOPE is the culmination of our First World War centenary activities and commemorates the resilience of County Durham people in the darkest of times.

“To truly understand the power of HOPE you have got to experience it so I would urge people to go along and see it for themselves.”

The artwork was created by Newcastle-based art and design studio Aether & Hemera and features stories contained within the letters, diaries and memoirs held by Durham County Record Office.

Among the artefacts which inspired the installation is the final letter of Acting Sergeant Joseph Furness, from Shildon, who died at 1.30am on 13 October 1915, after contracting pneumonia and rheumatic fever while on active duty.


The former pitman, who joined the Durham Light Infantry in 1906, joined the 10th Battalion when war broke out.

The letter, which can be viewed in the archive, was written five months before he died and was to be delivered to his wife Anne in the event of his death

“I am awfully sorry to leave you like this, Dearie, buried away in a foreign land,” he wrote.

“I am also sorry to be the means of causing you pain. The only request I have to make under the circumstances is that you don’t grieve too much about me. And my last wish is that you marry again if you find anyone you think worthy of taking my place. You are still quite young and it would be a shame to spoil your life for a memory.”

He went on to write: “You might kiss the bairns goodbye for me and say goodbye to mother, dad and other relations of ours.”

The council is also marking the centenary by putting on a performance of The Durham Hymns, a musical tribute to the county’s soldiers, which was also created using the record officer’s archives.

It is being put on at the Gala Theatre on Sunday, November 11 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

To book, call 03000 266 600 or visit www.galadurham.co.uk.