The future of a treasured regimental collection will be discussed by councillors next week.
Durham County Council’s new Joint Administration is seeking to review all options for the display and storage of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Collection and archive, which comprise more than 200,000 historic documents and 15,000 objects, as well as the former museum building and grounds.
On Wednesday 9 June, the local authority’s Cabinet will be asked to approve proposals for a full review, with a report setting out options for the display of exhibits to be prepared and brought back to councillors by September.
The report will include an assessment of the opportunities, costs, risks and implications of any proposals, as well as ensuring the review takes account of the plans for the £19.6 million History Centre, currently under construction in Durham City.
The DLI Collection belongs to the Trustees of the Regimental and Chattels Charity of the Former Durham Light Infantry and the Regimental Museum of the Former Durham Light Infantry. In 1967, the council agreed to care for the collection and built a museum close to County Hall in Aykley Heads. The review will include engagement with the DLI Trustees and interested parties.
In October 2015, the council’s then Cabinet agreed new arrangements for the storage and display of the DLI Collection, including the relocation of the collection to the DLI Research and Study Centre in Spennymoor, while the archives were moved to Durham County Records Office.
A programme of touring and permanent exhibitions was established to encourage people to engage with the collection, along with educational activities and loans to other institutions.
Current plans are for both the collection and the archive to be brought together at the redeveloped Grade II listed Mount Oswald History Centre site.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, the council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “As the custodians of the DLI Collection, we have a responsibility to ensure it is properly cared for and maintained for future generations. We also have a duty to celebrate our proud military heritage and to ensure that our DLI heroes receive the respect and honour they deserve.
“The purpose of this review is to take a fresh look at the options available to us for the collection, archive and current site now and I would like to reassure people that the best interests of the collection will be central to any decisions made.”
Cllr Richard Bell, deputy Leader and the local authority’s Cabinet member for finance, said: “At this point, we are keeping an open mind but we are very much focused on protecting the collection and looking at how we can encourage as many people as possible to discover the stories and treasures within.
“Before any decisions are made, it is important we have a clear understanding of what options are available and the costs and risks associated with them. However, we know how much the DLI Collection means to our communities, which is why we are seeking for the review to be completed and brought back to Cabinet by September at the latest.”
Cabinet will meet at 9.30am on Wednesday, 16 June in the Council Chamber at County Hall.
Due to social distancing requirements spaces for members of the public are very limited and anyone interested in attending in person must register in advance by emailing Democraticservices@durham.gov.uk
The meeting will be broadcast live online at https://www.youtube.com/user/DurhamCouncil and members of the public are being encouraged to follow the proceedings this way.