On the 28 March 1904 the Laboratory and Baths were destroyed by fire, but it was agreed that the work of the Laboratory should continue. In 1906 the local landowner, geologist Wilfred Hudleston, FRS, offered not only to make the site of the old Baths available for newer, larger, facilities, but also offered to finance their construction. He was reluctant to publicise his generosity, and asked that the building be named after one of his ancestors, Eleanor Dove, when it opened by the Duke of Northumberland in September 1908.
The Laboratory became a department of Armstrong College when the building and land was purchased by the college following Hudleston's death in 1909, and soon grew in reputation, acquiring its first boat in 1911. The Laboratory also operated a public aquarium and once housed the coble in which Grace Darling and her father rescued passengers from the SS Forfashire in 1838.
In 1967 responsibility for the Laboratory was transferred to Newcastle University.
As a research facility the Laboratory is normally closed to the public, but opens for visitors on certain days as part of the European Heritage Open Day scheme.