When the Navy shifted its Mediterranean base of operations from Minorca to Malta in 1802, its nearest hospital lay in Gibraltar. Valletta had numerous buildings available for rent, however, and for the first thirty years of the British occupation sick and wounded seamen were cared for either in the former Knights' armoury at Vittoriosa or in the erstwhile Turkish slave prison in Valletta.
In 1803 Nelson had represented the need for a permanent naval hospital on Malta, but it was not until 1830 that £17,000 was voted for the purpose. £6,000 was made available immediately and it was decided to convert an existing building, the Villa Bighi. Building was completed and the first patients received in 1832.
The hospital passed out of Royal Naval use in 1960.
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