Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - Admission Block | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - Admission Block

Item details

Name of item: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - Admission Block
Other name/s: RPA
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Health Services
Category: Hospital
Location: Lat: -33.8895410632 Long: 151.1825829390
Primary address: Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW 2050
Parish: Petersham
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1000 DP1159799
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Missenden RoadCamperdownSydneyPetershamCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Ministry of HealthState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Administration Block, both internally and externally, is an item of exceptional significance. It is a major surviving item of the original hospital; the historic core that has been in continuous use. The building is a fine example of the work of George Allan Mansfield, first president of the Institute of Architects. The three surviving facades and roof form are a finely detailed example of Victorian architecture. Together with the Victorian and Albert wings the group has an important landmark quality as one of the most imposing facades in Sydney. (Heritage Group, State Projects, NSW Dept. of Public Works & Services, 1997)
Date significance updated: 21 Nov 03
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Mansfield Brothers
Construction years: 1876-1882
Physical description: The entrance is located on a central axis. Originally the plan was 'H' pattern. The eastern position of the building was demolished to construct the Duke of Edinburgh building, leaving only the front part of the block together with the central hall extending into the newer building.

The building is Victorian Free Classical in style, built symmetrically about a three-storey portico. Built with a cream brick fa├žade and sandstone embellishments, with red bricks emphasising the ground floor arched openings. The entrance portico has grey granite columns. The roof covering was originally slate, but is now terracotta tiling.

Interior: Within the ground floor is a vast lobby, with marble flooring, elaborate plaster work to both walls and ceiling and several very fine stained glass windows, depicting the Royal Coat of Arms, Queen Victoria, Caritas etc. The rear of the lobby has a pressed metal ceiling and a 'Lyncrusta' Art Nouveau dado. The southern side hall has a floor of very fine High Victorian tiles, probably the whole lobby floor was originally to this pattern. (National Trust)
Modifications and dates: The rear wing was removed c. 1980.

The major public spaces were redecorated as part of the alterations made in building E block; the architects for this work were McConnell, Smith and Johnson P/L (c. 1986).


Historical notes: In 1868 HRH Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, while attending a function at Clontarf, was shot and wounded by a Mr O'Farrell. To commemorate his recovery, a public meeting, on 20 March 1868, resolved to build a new hospital. This new hospital was originally proposed for Macquarie Street, to incorporate the Sydney Infirmary. The Board of that institution eventually rejected this proposal.

3 April 1873 - Parliament passed on Act to incorporate Prince Alfred Hospital. Mansfield Brothers were appointed as architects.

The first building erected was a cottage, later the gardener's cottage, near the southern entrance from Missenden Road.

Construction started on the Administration Building and C and D Pavilions in 1876. The gardens were established at this time with assistance from the staff of the Botanical Gardens.

The Hospital was opened in 1882. On opening, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital cost 495 pounds per bed, compared to the Sydney Hospital's 379 pounds per bed.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The hospital was established as a charity hospital, with the beds being funded by subscribers. The colonial government, as a major subscriber, was entitled to issue tickets of admission as were the individual subscribers or 'bed donors'. Subscription to charity institutions such as the hospital was seen as being prestigious and lists of subscribers were published regularly. In later buildings, such as King George V Hospital plaques recorded the donors names.

The hospital was intended to care for the poor, who could not afford medical care in their own homes. In order to help develop an ethic of 'self-help' amongst the working classes all patients were encouraged to pay an appropriate level of fee.

The hospital admitted private patients from the start, particularly those who did not have friends or relatives living in Sydney. Additional private facilities were provided in the late 1930s with the construction of Gloucester House.

The system of tickets of admissions to hospitals gradually vanished, with the majority of the funding now being provided by the government rather than by public subscription. From the 1920s onwards people were being admitted to hospital who previously would have been cared for at home. This care was particularly evident in the case of maternity care.
(Heritage Group, State Projects, NSW Dept. of Public Works & Services, 1997)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The survival of historical artefacts and records in both the hospital and the medical school gives the potential for future research on the types of patients and illnesses, nursing and hospital practice, the development of the hospital and on medical and nursing training. There is also information related to particular individuals.

The original hospital buildings were designed according to the latest known techniques, and include the use of steel beams with small span concrete or corrugated iron vaulting between. The technique was designed not only to be fireproof but would also provide a medium that would not permit the transmission disease. More recent buildings have been constructed using similar materials with a similar aim.

In addition the layout was designed to provide for the movement of patients around the hospital , on trolleys before the widespread use of lifts. The movement of patients in the open air was obviously considered appropriate when the hospital was constructed however enclosed walkways have subsequently been constructed to link areas of the hospital.

Some of the surviving features of the various buildings demonstrate technical developments in medical care and technology. Some features are part of the design, others are part of the equipment and services. These features, when known, are identified in the inventory but more work remains to be done in this area. Additional features are likely to be discovered during building works. (Heritage Group, State Projects, NSW Dept. of Public Works & Services, 1997)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The hospital continues to be held in high regard by the community, by the staff and by the patients. It has a high reputation for the quality of medical care generally and for its specialised medical and research facilities.

Hospitals are places of major events in the lives of individuals in the community, births, serious illnesses, accidents and deaths. Individuals and families have strong feelings and associations with the place as the site of these major events in their lives. Generations of NSW residents, in particular Sydneysiders have memories of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

The staff, both the doctors and the nurses have strong associations with the place, particularly because of eth length of time many spent within the institution as a student. As a major teaching hospital it has a strong impact on many nurses and doctors practicing today.

The expansion of the hospital to the south created community opposition, particularly to the demolition of residences. This opposition has subsided in recent years now that the major phase of demolition has been completed, but there is still some concern regarding the impact of the hospital on the community, particularly regarding parking issues. An in-depth survey of the views of the staff and the community has not been undertaken as part of this study.
(Heritage Group, State Projects, NSW Dept. of Public Works & Services, 1997)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementConservation Plan Mar 19 1998
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0083002 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 16/2/1/100001 Feb 92   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Department of Community Services - Preliminary s170 Register199316/2/1/100State Projects Heritage Group  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenHistoric Buildings Group, Public Works Department1991Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Conservation Guidelines

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012305
File number: S90/07364/03

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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