The large regimental collection includes war diaries and extensive battalion records that are now scattered across the region, with the museum closed in 2015 due to a lack of visitors.
The closure resulted in much uproar from Durham residents which has still not resided six years on. Protest group ‘The Faithful Durham’s’ have not ceased to advocate for the centralisation of the collection and the reopening of the museum since its closure, continuously urging the council to reassess the permanent closure.
However, little progress was made over the years preceding the local elections of May 2021, which brought new councillors open to the prospect of reopening the museum.
Plans for a hybrid cultural centre have been discussed over recent months, with the idea of the site reopening as a café, gallery and exhibition centre with part of the collection on display. Campaigners welcome these talks as, despite the fact that the site would not be opening in the same capacity, the legacy of the veterans would live on through the contemplation garden where their ashes are scattered.
The site reopening could also be an advantageous contribution to County Durham’s bid for ‘city of culture’ in 2025. The council states that plans will be developed and finalised early next year, but many campaigners believe that these long-awaited discussions are certainly a step in the right direction for the archive and collection and most importantly for the legacy of the veterans who served in the DLI.