Its purpose was to cater to the health needs of officers and staff working under the Dutch East India Company and sea farers entering the busy Colombo port, as sickness was commonplace on board ships which had been on long voyages.
The hospital was usually manned by a Chief Surgeon, a second surgeon, three junior surgeons, three third surgeons, five interns along with an apothecary and nurses.
Some of the famous surgeons from who served here are BarenAlleman van Ligtenvoord who was the chief surgeon on the ship “Gheisenberg” who was the longest serving Dutch surgeon at the hospital from 1751-1790 (nearly a third of the Dutch occupation and Paul Hermann, the most famous surgeon amongst them who is known as the father of botany in Sri Lanka.
He was however also known as a tyrant amongst his underlings and slaves. The companion of the famous writer Robert Knox was also treated here when they escaped captivity from the Kandyan King and came to Colombo.
The Building was in use by the English who took over next, who filled up the canal which ran by it and after independence it was used as the police headquarters from 1980 to 1996 until the bombing on the world trade centre in Colombo by the LTTE left it significantly damaged.