An exhibition about the role of music in the history of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) is set to move to the Durham Dales.

The free exhibition – entitled When the Bugle Calls – will leave Bishop Auckland Town Hall in mid-April to move to the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope.

When the Bugle calls has attracted hundreds of visitors since it opened in Bishop Auckland in December. The exhibition follows the story of the Durham Light Infantry Band and explores the role of music both in the British Army as a whole and in the lives of individual soldiers.

It examines how music was used to maintain morale and rally regiments in often dark and dangerous times.

When the Bugle Calls looks at two centuries of military history, from the earliest regimental musicians to the adventures of drummers in the Crimean War to the lives of ‘boy band’ soldiers like Jimmy Durham.

The exhibition also reveals how Abide with Me became the DLI’s regimental hymn. Visitors can learn about the lives of 20th-century military band leaders and the legacy of the DLI’s musical traditions today.

Gillian Kirkbride, who works as a museums, heritage and collections manager at the DLI Study and Research Centre in Spennymoor, said, “Music is such an integral part of the DLI and British Army stories and yet it is not something we have had the opportunity to really explore before.”

“From its use as a tool for communicating battlefield commands to ceremonial purposes, music – and bugling in particular – came to shape regimental traditions.”

“We’ve worked very closely with many groups, including the DLI Friends, DLI Association and our collection volunteers to decide what stories and objects to include in the exhibition, and then with organisations such as the Durham Army Cadet Force Band and the Imperial War Museum on the music and oral histories.”

“There are items that have never been on display before and stories which have never been told.”

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, Cllr Ossie Johnson, said, “When the Bugle Calls is a unique and valuable insight into the life of the DLI and it has been great to see so many families already visiting it, enjoying it, and learning something new.”

“Military music has always been a stirring sound – the marching feet, the glistening brass, the beat and rattle of the drums attract people and hold them spellbound.”

“We hope the people of Weardale and beyond take this opportunity to discover more about such a rich part of our collective heritage.”

When the Bugle Calls will leave Bishop Auckland Town Hall on April 14th and open at the Durham Dales Centre on 20th April. The exhibition, which is free of charge, will be open every day from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm.

When the Bugle Calls will also be visiting other venues around County Durham, which will be confirmed nearer the time.

To learn more, please go to www.durham.gov.uk/dlicollection.

(Featured image courtesy of Rich Brooks, from Flickr Creative Commons)


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