Despite a strong local campaign since the autumn of 2015, the DLI Museum and Art Gallery in Durham will close in April of this year as a result of the decision of Durham County Council under the leadership of the Labour Party. Once upon a time that was the Party which would fight on behalf of working people and local communities against just the sort of austerities and cutbacks from which we have been suffering this past few years. Nowadays the Labour Party could not fight its way out of a paper bag, except perhaps a few individuals trying to preserve their sense of self-importance.
What can we do? The campaign ‘Save the DLI’ [http://savethedli.org.uk/] will no doubt still go on. But meanwhile it is planned to mothball the collection, to be stored in a former tobacco factory, on a short lease, in conditions that I doubt will meet official standards for conservation practice. Some time or never, depending on funds one presumes, there will be ‘travelling exhibitions’. More likely the collection will eventually be scattered and may even be sold off into private hands – where are the guarantees?
I would suggest that all of you out there whose families have donated personal items relating to your DLI ancestors, such as medals, certificates and bronze plaques – ask for them back. Point out that the Durham County Council by its decision had abrogated its responsibility for care, preservation and display of these precious family heirlooms entrusted to them. Demand your heirlooms back!
Whatever you do – don’t just sit back and do nothing. We are in the centenary years of the First World War when many of our families lost relatives: fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, as well as sisters and aunts. Stand up and be counted.