A deserted reservoir was found by National Heritage Boad (NHB) researchers who stumbled upon the repository while studying old maps.
“The first thing that came to our minds was how [it was possible that] we did not know about the reservoir,” said Dr John Kwok, assistant director (research) of NHB’s impact assessment and mitigation division.
According to TODAY, the five-member research team, headed by Dr Kwok, began juxtaposing maps from different periods of time to figure out its history.
“We had to go through a lot of records, and pretty much camped in the archive room to look at them over and over again,” shared Dr Kwok.
The team then discovered that the reservoir, which is at least 2m deep, was a water source for Tanjong Pagar Dock back in 1905.
While a map and report from a British aerial inspection in 1944 termed it as a reservoir, it was marked as a swimming pool in maps dating to the Japanese Occupation.
Subsequently, one newspaper report in 1948 referred to it as Keppel Hill Reservoir, before it became a mere outline in the first Urban Redevelopment Authority Masterplan 10 years later, and was removed from the maps by around 2000.
“It was forgotten because it was a private reservoir and through time, we think that it changed owners and was subsequently abandoned because there was no use for it as a reservoir or a swimming pool,” Dr Kwok reasoned.
A Public Utilities Board (PUB) spokesperson responded: “PUB understands that the site may have started out as a private pond used to collect rain water under the then Singapore Harbour Board. Given its relatively small size, it is not viable for tapping on as a reliable water supply source.”
As for the future of the reservoir, NHB’s Group Director (Policy) Alvin Tan said the land has been zoned for park use and guided tours may be organised
He added: “We would advise members of the public with children, elderly and those with certain handicaps to avoid going to the site itself, [because of] the dense jungle grove and possibly slippery roads.”
The public can learn more about the discovery and history of the reservoir by watching the documentary, Forgotten Reservoir on the NHB website.