The Forgotten Reservoir on Keppel Hill

Singapore Reservoirs, Keppel Hill Reservoir

The National Heritage Board revealed an abandoned reservoir in September 2014, which was previously unknown to the public. This long-forgotten water body, known as the Keppel Hill Reservoir in earlier records, has been supposedly vanished from our maps since the 1950s, though there have been several sightings by local exploration groups.

The reservoir was originally constructed as a water supply for the Tanjong Pagar Dockyard. Source (Atlas Obscura)
Let’s explore the forgotten reservoir, Keppel Hill Reservoir. Source (Evensi)

Singapore’s drinking water supply has a long history, dating back to the MacRitchie Reservoir, which was built in 1868. During the colonial period, there were records of additional private reservoirs that were constructed as well. The Keppel Hill Reservoir first appeared on a 1905 Tanjong Pagar Dock Arbitration map, providing water to the adjacent Tanjong Pagar Dockyard. It is at least a century old, and it provides insight into how prior watch catchment was carried out.

During the Japanese Occupation, the private reservoir was turned into a swimming pool. After the conflict, there were still drowning reports at the reservoir, notably that of a 17-year-old boy in 1948. According to a story in The Straits Times, the youngster had gone for a swim with two others at the reservoir and had drowned.

It was later used as a private swimming pool after the reservoir had been filled with water. Source (Time Out)
The Straits Times report dated 4 April 1948 on the youth drowning at Keppel Hill Reservoir. Source (ROSCOXPOSED)

The filled reservoir and pool are still visible, including a 2-meter deep pool the size of three badminton courts, a diving board, and concrete steps. According to the National Heritage Board, the bricks used to build the reservoir indicated that the water was frequently utilized. While the majority of the bricks were made by hand during Singapore’s colonial history, others came from the Jurong Brickworks, which was founded in 1934.

The Seaview Terrace neighborhood is a stone’s throw from the peaceful Wishart Road area, which is probably named after British Admiral James Wishart or the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Wishart, which was christened after him.

Wishart Road’s sleepy neighbourhood wakes up to curious find. Source (The Straits Times)

The reservoir is accessible via Wishart Road, which is about a 10-minute walk from its eastern end. After passing Joaquim Garden & Landscape Nursery, the road will split into two directions. On the left is a woodland area with a fence. On the right, there is a driveway that goes up to a residence. A path on the left will take you past a wood storage facility. There will be an altar on the ground. Follow the path on the left of the altar in order to discover it. There will be a few curves in the road, but you’ll be able to reach the reservoir after following it for a while.

The mysterious Keppel Hill Reservoir and Seah Im Bunker. Source (The Occasional Traveller)
Keppel Hill Reservoir was the largest Reservoir in the area. Source (Zafigo)

It’s amazing how this huge reservoir has gone unnoticed in the midst of HarbourFront and Mount Faber, which are both so close. Places like the Keppel Hill Reservoir can be neglected or rediscovered in a city-state as small as Singapore.

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