It was purpose built in 1837 to house one of the country’s oldest medical societies and its library (established in 1779). The city’s rapid population growth encouraged a number of medical firsts, including the appointment of the country’s first Medical Officer in 1847. This was Dr Duncan who famously recommended that the poor drink ale rather than water to avoid typhus infection. There was also the first children’s hospital, public baths and public washhouse. The country’s first Borough Engineer took concerted and innovative action over sanitation, creating public spaces and sewage solutions. And there was the country’s first District Nursing Service with Florence Nightingale-trained nurses. The building is still a place for study and medical instruction and is listed Grade II* listed.