During 1803, at height of its rule in India, the British India Company (East India Company) had a private army of 260000, twice the size of British Army. Plenty of soldiers used to die, mainly from diarrheal diseases, malaria and kala azar. The only available treatment at that time was traditional Indian medicine. It was not possible to treat this vast number of soldiers with very limited European doctors. Necessity of imparting training to the native people in modern medicine was badly felt.
Asia’s 1st Medical College (Medical College, Bengal) came into being in 1835. However, the pass rate for qualifying examination was abysmal (30-33%). Sometime during 1841-42, Sri Ram Kamal Sen (Grandfather of Sri Keshab Chandra Sen), a social reformist, came up with a proposal for a Bengali section. In 1853, Principal of Medical College, Bengal Dr. F Mouat, Dr. Jackson and few others started the Bengali section, with the hope of improvement in the pass rate.
From 1859 onwards, frequent agitations were being organized by the students of vernacular sections including Bengali section. Sri Bijoy Krishna Goswami and later on Sri Banamali Chattopadhyay were involved in several such agitations. To control these disturbances, it was decided to shift the Bengali section to some other place.
Meanwhile, to treat the poor and vagabond people of the locality, a dispensary, popularly known as ‘Pauper’s Clinic’, was started within the Central Hall of Sealdah Market. In 1864, this clinic was converted into Sealdah Municipal Hospital. Subsequently this Municipal Hospital was selected for shifting the Bengali section, from Medical College. Thus, Sealdah Medical School was established on 1st Dec. 1873.
In 1884, the school was renamed after the then Governor General, George Campbell as Campbell Medical School. Nilratan Sircar got admitted in this institution in 1877. In 1948 the name was changed to Campbell Medical College.
In 1895 the Lady Elliot Hostel, an artistically designed building was built out of a charity fund of Rs. 24,040/- generously donated by Her Highness of Murshidabad, Sams-E-Jahan Begum Paradua Mahal Shahiba, which is still standing.
On 19th Aug. 1950 the College was rechristned after the name of great educationist, social activist, freedom fighter and alumnus of this institution - Sir Nilratan Sircar.