The hospital has it origins in the Dock and Stonehouse Public Dispensary established in Chapel Street, Devonport in 1815 and situated there for nearly 50 years, in buildings used as the Parochial Office. This facility became too small and a new hospital was proposed in the 1850s. The Admiralty intended to erect a hospital for the service population in Devonport and as the South Devon & East Cornwall Hospital in Plymouth declined to be connected with the project, Mr Thomas Woollcombe took the matter further.
It was officially called "The Royal Albert Hospital and Eye Infirmary and Children's Ward for Devonport, Stonehouse, Cornwall and West Devon, instituted March 1861".
Construction work started on Monday, March 3rd 1862, the tender of Mr Jenkin of Devonport, value £6,900, having been accepted on Thursday, February 27th.
The construction cost was £13,000, mainly from contributions of Dr Thomas Woollcombe, with a £3,500 Government grant towards locked wards for the treatment of "unfortunate women".
The Royal Albert Hospital was designed by the Devonport architect, Mr Alfred Norman (also Mayor of Devonport between 1873 and 1875) and built by Mr. Jenkin and Mr. Hallett. Miss Florence Nightingale arranged the wards which also met with the approval of Sir John Liddell, Director-General of the Medical Department of the Royal Navy, Doctor Sutherland and Captain Galton, Royal Engineers, Commissioners for enquiring into Military Hospitals.
The building, which was in the Italian style, was 200 feet in length and built entirely of dressed stone.
It would eventually contain an accident ward, with eight beds, two general wards with sixteen beds each, a ward with six beds for eye cases, a ward with thirteen beds for persons able to contribute partially towards the cost of treatment. In addition to these requirements of a normal hospital, it would also contain a Female Lock Ward of at least twenty-five beds, this being at the express request of the Government under the Contagious Diseases Act, who would be paying £3,500 towards the cost of the hospital and £750 per annum towards the maintenance of the Lock Ward, which formed the eastern wing of the hospital. The western wing, which had distinct entrances and was internally quite separate from the Government wing, formed the civil general hospital.
HRH the Princess Beatrice laid the foundation stone of a nursing home in June 1900. This 'valuable addition' to the Hospital was reported in May 1901 to be almost finished.
In 1912 the hospital accommodated 50 patients in the general wards, eleven in the special and emergency wards and two in what were called the home wards. About 3,500 out-patients were treated every year.
During the Great War the Admiralty took over part of the hospital for its own use and retained it after the War as a War College and Port Library. Electric lighting was installed in 1918 with funds provided by the nursing staff. Royal Assent was given on July 12th 1934 to the Prince of Wales' Hospital Plymouth Act.
Upon nationalisation, in 1948 the hospital was amalgamated into Plymouth, South Devon & East Cornwall General Hospital Group and became the Devonport Section of the Plymouth General Hospital in 1963.
The Royal Albert Hospital was closed on Tuesday June 9th 1981 when Derriford Hospital opened. It would later be demolished, in 1983.