Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Forgotten Reservoir




Forgotten reservoir, remembered reservoir, abandoned reservoir or even Keppel Hill reservoir. However you may wish to call it/name it, one things for sure, this tiny area of water hit the headlines towards the end of 2014 when a group of researchers, from the National Heritage Board, announced that after finding hints to this body of water in February and spending the convening months researching through old maps and literature, they had "discovered" the forgotten reservoir.

Situated approx 400 metres from Telok Blangah Rd, in park land close to a plant nursery and the majestic house at 11 Keppel Hill. To find it you pass by the houses on Wishart Road named after the British Admiral James Wishart or even the Navy ship HMS Wishart, named after the same person. These buildings were once home to the employees of the Port of Singapore. Indeed the reservoir was owned and used as a source of water for the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, the precursor of the Port of Singapore Authority. 


Believed to date back over 100 years to 1905, many of it's bricks date back to colonial times and some newer from the Jurong Brickwork's which was founded in 1934. It's known to be one of 3 reservoirs that were once in the locale, but at one point it was used as a swimming pool throughout the Japanese Occupation. Remains of steps and the diving board can still be seen. It covered an area of 3 badminton courts and is 2 metres deep with water that is surprisingly clear. 


Although forgotten research on the Internet shows that local groups had knowledge of it overtime and indeed it was 'found' in 2005 when hunting for a 1943 Japanese officers tomb, which is behind the reservoir. I did look briefly for this but had no real knowledge of where to start the search - a trip for another day!

In 1936 2 soldiers are reported to have drowned here and in 1948 17 year old Chew Teik Pin drowned on March 26th, as he dived into the water after meeting 2 friends there. Proof enough to take care of your footing if you decide to visit. 


What was discovered about its existence and then gradual disappearance is as follows...

1905 - believed to have been built
1942 -  Japanese Occupation years. Described as a swimming pool. 
1948 -  called Keppel Hill reservoir
1958 - Singapore's Master Plan shows just an outline but no name.
1980s - maps show just an outline.
2000 - not shown on maps of Singapore - FORGOTTEN!

Note to anyone visiting please be mindful to not damage the vegetation, leave rubbish etc. On a safety note the ground is uneven with tree roots waiting to trip you up. There are low hanging branches and underfoot can be slippery, please take care. It goes without saying to keep back from the edge of the water. Please show caution.