National Aerated Water Company's building: 5 facts about former bottling factory

The heritage community has called for the National Aerated Water Company building to be conserved for several years now.
The heritage community has called for the National Aerated Water Company building to be conserved for several years now.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Thursday (Dec 15) said it is looking at the possibility of conserving the National Aerated Water Company's building.

The disused bottling factory, a two-storey building off Serangoon Road, is considered to be one of the last remaining structures from Singapore's industrial past.

Here are five things you may not know about the National Aerated Water Company.

1. Company moved into the building in 1954


The company produced popular soft drinks like Sinalco. PHOTO: ST FILE

In 1954, the company moved into this building that cost $500,000 then, making 48,000 bottles of aerated water per day.

It was part of the booming industrial scene in Singapore and produced popular soft drinks like Sinalco, Kickapoo Joy Juice and Royal Crown Cola.

The red and cream industrial building is two storeys high and done up in an art-deco style.

It has been left derelict for years after it stopped producing bottled drinks.

In 1964, the company opened a $350,000 plant in Kuala Lumpur, producing 50,000 bottles of Sinalco with 40 workers.

The company's statistics showed that sales increased by 30 per cent every year, with 1.3 million bottles of Sinalco sold in Malaysia in 1963.

2. Out of business in the 1990s


The building as seen in 2006. PHOTO: ST FILE

National Aerated Water Company wound up in the 1990s, as the bottling industry faced higher production costs due in part to rising fuel prices.

Health authorities had also reportedly started discouraging the public from taking carbonated drinks in the 1980s.

3. All in the family

The company was started in 1929 and was run by three brothers: Ching Kwong Yew, Ching Kwong Kuen and Ching Kwong Lum.

They had in turn benefited from their father, who had run a ship repair company.

4. Embroiled in legal tussle

In 1982, Kwong Kuen transferred shares to his brother Kwong Yew to be held in trust for him.

 

Kwong Kuen died of cancer in 1985 when his son, Paul, was 14.

Paul believed that the trust assets were to be transferred to him when he turned 30, according to what his father had repeatedly said, but faced difficulties when he tried recovering them upon reaching that age.

The judge ruled in Paul's favour in December 2009.

5. Land it stands on sold to a Malaysian developer for $47 million

Malaysia-listed developer Selangor Dredging said in early December that it was buying a freehold site in Serangoon Road from National Aerated Water Company for $47 million.

Savills Singapore, the property's exclusive marketing agent, told The Straits Times that apart from the $47 million land cost, there would be an additional $22.66 million payable in estimated development charges to intensify land use from an industrial to residential purpose.

SOURCES: National Library Board, The New Paper, The Straits Times

Correction note: An earlier version of the story said  Green Spot was one of the soft drinks bottled at the factory. This is incorrect. Green Spot was introduced and bottled in Singapore by Amoy Canning Corporation (Singapore) Limited.