Abandoned reservoir off Telok Blangah Road discovered

SINGAPORE - An abandoned and forgotten reservoir dating back to 1905 has been discovered by the National Heritage Board (NHB).

Nestled in the Mount Faber forest, and not marked out in maps today, it served as a source of water for the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, which was the forerunner of today's Port of Singapore Authority.

The reservoir, which is an oasis of calm and a green pocket in the built up area, also used to be a swimming pool according to pre-war and post-war maps. Remnants of a diving board and a bathing area still stand today.

The place, known to some as the Keppel Hill Reservoir, made the news when two soldiers and a 17-year-old boy drowned there on separate occasions - in 1936 and 1948.

The 2m deep pool of water, which has a working filtration system today, was discovered by a team of researchers from the board in February while doing a study on the topographical changes in Singapore over the past 100 years.

"We were poring over old maps of the area and saw a body of water marked out on them,'' said Dr John Kwok, 36, an assistant director of research at NHB.

The team spent four months piecing together more details about the site from old maps and news stories. A documentary on the place, which is about one-third the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, will be uploaded on its website on Thursday.

Based on a 1924 map by the former Singapore Harbour Board, the researchers also found it is one of three small reservoirs that used to be in the area. It most likely served residents of a nearby settlement.

The land the reservoir sits on is zoned as park land.

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Singapore has 17 reservoirs which are managed by the Public Utilities Board.

Meanwhile, the NHB said the discovery is historically significant because of the building materials and methods used. The bricks used to build the reservoir show that the body of water was constantly in use, said Mr Alvin Tan, 42, its group director of policy. Some were handmade and date back to the colonial period while others come from Jurong Brickworks which was established in 1934.

Mr Tan advised people to be careful about exploring the place as its terrain is slippery and overgrown with heavy foliage. He said guided tours may be organised if there is demand.

People with stories about the forgotten reservoir may write to the board at nhb_feedback@nhb.gov.sg.