The Royal Hospital Haslar was the first of three hospitals built in the 18th century for sick and wounded sailors and marines and was the last to remain in service. Following submissions to King George II by the Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, sites were identified at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham, and building commenced at Haslar farm in 1745. Designed by Theodore Jacobsen FRS in the manner of his Foundling Hospital in London, the hospital, reputed at one time to be the largest red brick building in Europe, was completed in 1762. Haslar was grand in concept, elegant in design and robust of build, and provided medical attention and nursing care to the sick and wounded of both Fleet and Army. This may not have been of the highest order in the early years, but the standards achieved during the Peninsular and Crimean Wars earned the hospital a reputation among military authorities that was unequalled. Sir John Richardson, eminent Arctic explorer and physician at Haslar, even corresponded with Florence Nightingale when the nursing reformer was campaigning for changes in the way casualties of war were treated.
Described as the noblest of institutions by Queen Victoria, the Royal Hospital Haslar has provided medical care to the Royal Navy for over 250 years and Sick Berth staff for service in all areas of global conflict. In more recent times it treated patients from all three services and since the 1950s has made the professional and technological expertise contained within its walls accessible to civilian patients. The photographs in this fascinating illustrated history will stir the memory of all those who have entered Haslar, as either staff or patients, and provide a unique record of a singular and celebrated institution.