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Bristol was one of the first cities outside London to establish an infirmary to 'benefit the sick poor'.

It opened in converted brewery buildings next to Maudlin Lane in 1737 and was paid for by 78 wealthy donors. The infirmary quickly established a reputation for excellence in surgery with operations taking place in the wards until 1755, when a dedicated operating theatre opened.

This first hospital only had room for 34 inpatients and it soon became overcrowded. Despite being constantly altered and enlarged, its wards remained basic, overcrowded and unsanitary.

The need for a new building became apparent and between 1782 and 1814, the old infirmary was demolished and a new one built.

It was not until 1850 that Queen Victoria granted it a royal title, allowing it to be called Bristol "Royal" Infirmary.

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