Friday, November 7, 2014

The Forgotten Reservoir

Keppel Hill has become a new place for exploration ever since the discovery of an abandoned and forgotten private reservoir (also known as Keppel Hill reservoir) dating back to 1905 made the news after it has been discovered by the National Heritage Board (NHB). This reservoir is located in the Mount Faber forest and is not marked in local maps since 2000 .  It served as a source of water for the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, which was the forerunner of today's Port of Singapore Authority.

I love exploring such places especially one that has a long history. I knew my husband would never go to these forests and for safety reasons, I can't go alone either. Hence, when I saw that there would be a free guided tour to the forgotten reservoir, I immediately signed up for it. It would also be nice to hear more history of the place from the tour itself.

Facts about this reservoir

-Built in colonial times, (could be in 1905 or earlier) before WWI, survived through WWII, to be a private reservoir, serving as a water source for the nearby Tanjong Pagar Dock Company.

- does not exist in Singapore map from 2000, hence the "forgotten" reservoir

- According to the old map, it is one of the 3 reservoirs in this region

-is about 2m deep and about 1/3 the size of an Olympics size swimming pool. It has a working filtration system

-was converted to a swimming pool according to pre-war and post-war maps. The remaining evidence is that of a diving board and a bathing area.

- made news when two soldiers and a 17-year-old boy drowned there on separate occasions - in 1936 and 1948. Recently, rediscovered by NHB.

-discovery is historically significant because of the building materials and methods used. Some of the bricks were handmade and date back to the colonial period while others come from Jurong Brickworks which was established in 1934.

My Trip

Mr Charles Goh, the founder of Asia Paranormal Investigators (API), was our guide. He talked about colonial times and how the roads in this region got their names. Keppel Hill and Keppel Harbour were named after Sir Henry Keppel and Mount Faber was named after Captain Charles Edward Faber, Wishart Road was named after Charles Wishart who was the manager of New Harbour Docl Co. Mr Goh, being a famous "tomb raider",  had not forgotten Ang Seah Im (buried in Bukit Brown) whose name was used to name Seah Im Road and Seah Im bus interchange.

We gathered in front of 16 Morse Road. 
16 Morse Road, Lakshimi Vilas Restaurant, this is the only place you can visit the washrooms

The road sign is rather confusing. In front of Lakshimi Vilas Restaurant, it was known as WIshart Road. Any way, our desination is Keppel Hill which is on the right if you were facing Lasksmi Vilas.

Walking past these barrier gates

Fork in the road. Turn Left. Notice some construction work going on here.
We are pretty interested in 11 Keppel Hill on the right fork. It was rumored to be port master house during colonial times but we can't be sure. However, it was definitely one of the colonial bunglows
(LEFT)You would find secondary forest growing on the land and you would come to a dead end.
(RIGHT)Look towards your right  to find an altar marking the entrance to the reservoir
Things found on the left side of the dead end. 
The terrain we have to walk through. There is a visible trail. We came across groups of people who came here to investigate on their own.

Ta-dah! This is what we saw! At first look, it is a seemingly stagnant, emerald green water body full of fallen leaves and branches. Spot the water pipe and the remnants of  a diving board

The modern looking water pipe that is still in working condition. It makes sounds when water runs through it. I doubt this was installed orginallly. This pipe may be installed for usage nearby.

Remants of a diving board
wading pool?

Steps towards the pool. The bricks on the back are made during  colonial days. The bricks are rough to touch, hence man made

Another view of the reservoir
(LEFT) When the reservoir is full, water flows through these hole to the filtration beds.
(MIDDLE) Nature taking its course, covering part of the wall of the reservoir
(RIGHT) Water spider gliding in water
Roots and branches are everywhere. It is not easy get down the steps because of the roots.
One last look at the reservoir
On the way back, I went exploring the exterior of 11 Keppel Hill.
A pair of gates guarding the mysterious No. 11 Keppel Hill

Definitely a bungalow

Flora and Fauna around Keppel Hill

An exploration at Joaquim Gardens...
Joaquim Garden & Landscape

An isolated hut near the site... wonder what is its story...

Thanks to NHB, I finally get to see the forgotten reservoir, which otherwise, I would never get to visit it. There is also a Japanese tomb located near the reservoir. (This , I did not get to visit as it was further into the trail). The terrain is slippery during rainy season and overgrown with foliage, hence not advisable to explore alone.

As this area was developed during colonial times, I am sure there are many stories yet to be discovered, one of which would be No 11 Keppel Hill, the Japanese tomb and even the shophouses located in Wishart Road would be interesting. Perhaps, there is even a connection between these places. Understand the Japanese could have found this area during WWII since this area was part of an important developing port when Japanese invaded Singapore. Charles Goh mentioned that the Japanese Tomb was made for a Japanese engineer who worked for Mitsubishi. He had died of overworked. Given the chance, I would explore this area again.

If you are interested to know more about the reservoir , visit here. Below are also videos about the reservoir and the Japanese tomb.

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