CAMPAIGNERS have marked the fifth anniversary of the ‘shameful’ closure of a regimental museum with a wreath laying ceremony.

The occasion at the former Durham Light Infantry Museum, at Durham’s Aykley Heads, comes as the pressure group Faithful Durhams continue to push for a dedicated display to the regiment at a new history centre being developed.

Faithful Durhams secretary Diane Inglis said: “The event marked the fifth anniversary of the shameful closing of our county’s regimental museum dedicated to the heroes of the Durham Light Infantry.

“The dignified event included the laying of wreaths, with the Kohima Epitaph being read by former Rifleman Geoff Weadon and the Last Post being played by Bugler Colin Longstaff.”

She added: “A lot of people are beginning to realise Durham County Council and the trustees are not doing what they said would do and five years down the line we are no further forward.

“People are remembering what we had in the old museum and we want that again. The DLI deserve it.The Northern Echo:

“The council is moving the collection, currently housed at Sevenhills, Spennymoor and the DLI archives at the Durham County Record Office, to the new history centre Mount Oswald Manor House.

"It sounds like it is just going to be put in storage again, when this could be ideal opportunity to do the DLI’s legacy full justice with a new permanent and comprehensive display.

“The latest we have heard is that it will comprise a virtual display incorporated as part of a wider exhibition about about life in County Durham.”

Mrs Inglis said the council had said people would get better access to te collection, but fewer than 1,000 people had been to visit the collection in Spennymoor in the four years after the museum closed, while only 68 people had been to see the medals at Durham University. This compared to a footfall of about 38,000 at the DLI Museum.

She said: “They still cannot give us a valid reason why they closed and the way they did it without consultation. It can’t be about the money because of everything they have spent since then putting it in storage."

The Northern Echo:

Alison Clark, Durham County Council’s head of culture, sports and tourism, said: “We preserve the stories of the DLI through the collection, keeping memories alive and respecting the sacrifices of the regiment.

“Whilst we made the decision to close a costly building, it has enabled us to care for the collection better and engage more hearts and minds and more veterans in our work through our learning and exhibition programme.

“This has been recognised by the Army Museums Ogilby Trust.

“Our outreach programme engages more County Durham schools than before and brings real objects in for engagement, removing the need for costly school transport to a venue.

“We are also supported in this work by veterans and the DLI Association and DLI Friends who come with us.

“The DLI Collection will be a key part of our new history centre at the redeveloped Mount Oswald site.

“This will be the first time that the entire collection will be held under the same roof since 1998, bringing together physical and digital displays to create a dynamic and state-of-the-art exhibition space.

“Construction is due to begin later this year and we hope to open the facility by 2023.” 

The Northern Echo: