The oddity that stands in Esplanade Park is a Victorian fountain with elegant blue and white lobes. Tan Kim Seng, a Chinese philanthropist, built Singapore’s oldest fountain in 1882. This is known as the Tan Kim Seng Fountain.
The 19th-century fountain Tan Kim Seng consists of three tiers and is decorated with figures including four Greek muses in the lower bowl: Calliope, Clio, Erato and Melpomene.
The original site of the fountain was at Fullerton Square before it was moved to Esplanade Park where it is currently located in 1925. Tan Kim Seng, after his death, donated $13,000 to the government for the construction of Singapore’s first reservoir and waterworks. In honour of Tan’s monetary contributions, a fountain was made. The waterworks were eventually completed in 1877 after his death in 1864.
Tan Kim Seng
Tan Kim Seng, a third-generation Straits Chinese born in Malacca in 1805, moved to Singapore in the 1820s.
Tan Kim Seng built Singapore’s first waterworks and established the Chui Eng Free School for boys. Today, only the exterior façade of an old building remains as part of a restaurant under the Far East Square development.
Tan Kim Seng donated toward both Tan Tock Seng Hospital (one of the oldest hospitals in Singapore) and Thian Hock Keng (the oldest existing Chinese temple in Singapore).
The hall’s location near Marina Reservoir, the largest of all reservoirs in Singapore, is a fitting homage to Tan Kim Seng who contributed heavily to public waterworks in Singapore.
You may also like to read about the Cenotaph, the other Esplanade Park Memorial.