The current Forum Committee is working hard to meet the aims set out on this page. However, we believe we are only being partly successful, particularly in promoting the interests of member organisations and in communicating with them.
Since the AGM six months ago, when the size of the Committee was reduced and no replacements attracted, the Forum has supported two events aimed at helping members to develop skills and knowledge.
Firstly, on 12 March, the Collections Training Workshops run by Beamish and Bowes Museums at Auckland Castle. This had been trailed at our November AGM and was intended to make members think about the quality of displays they put on at local history events, especially in respect of attracting a more intergenerational audience.
The four workshops attended by all delegates were:
They were all well thought-out and useful to local history groups and those attending (25) gave excellent feedback to the organisers. However, regrettably, only seven of the Forum’s 50 organisations were represented.
Secondly, on 14 May, the Twixt Tyne & Tees event at County Hall, which focused on the First World War. Here Andrew Marriott of Newcastle University's project on 'Trench Art', Dorothy Hall of the North East War Memorials project and Gill Parkes of Durham County Record Office demonstrated how, despite all that has already come to light, at an individual level there still remains much to discover about the men and women of County Durham whose lives were affected by the First World War.
The fascinating and moving stories presented included references to the scouting movement, wood and metal from the Front converted into crucifixes or domestic objects, and a DLI officer's diary written up after the war from notes made on the spot but without the limitations of censorship, which clarifies the layout of the trenches and offers details on personnel and operations outside the conventional accounts.
Apart from the members of the Committee and the speakers, only one other Forum member was present (a total of 14) and therefore the messages from what was an excellent morning went unheard by over 90% of the Forum. Those messages are :
Linked to the 14 May event, the Forum is being consulted on the planning of a new Durham Light Infantry Gallery at Palace Green Library. Julie Biddlecombe-Brown from the Library, who organised the current exhibition - Somme 1916 - from Durham to the Western Front, explained the consultation to the May meeting of the Forum Committee. The University Library is working in partnership with Durham County Council and the DLI Trustees on the commitment, made following the closure of the DLI Museum at Aykley Heads, to provide continuing access to the DLI Collection now housed at Seven Hills, Spennymoor. The Library wants, in consultation with local people, to create an outstanding gallery which tells the story of this remarkable regiment and, between 2016 and 2020, produce a series of travelling, temporary exhibitions on themes relating to the history of the DLI. The current Somme exhibition, which runs to October, includes a talks and events programme which may be of interest to members. Details can be found on: Somme 1916 Talks and Events.
If you would like to become involved in the Committee running the Forum we would love to hear from you. We meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 10.00am at the Resource Centre, Beamish Museum until about 11.45 am.
We have two major tasks over the next year
A series of exhibitions and events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.
A voluntary association of local history societies and groups, heritage organisations and individuals interested in sharing and promoting the history and heritage of County Durham.
Website contributed by Forum member Durham County Local History Society. Last update: February 2016.
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