Exploring the Forgotten Keppel Hill Reservoir

Keppel Hill, off Telok Blangah Road, has become a new place of exploration in Singapore ever since the newspapers published the rediscovery of an abandoned reservoir by the National Heritage Board.

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The forgotten reservoir, reported to be dated as early as 1905, had appeared in the early maps. But by the fifties, it had vanished from the maps and its location was not officially marked for sixty years.

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The 2m-deep reservoir is not easily visible although it is located at a short distance away from Keppel Hill Road. Nature has reclaimed it over the decades, as the overgrown vegetation shields it from public attention. The stagnant pool of water is also filled with dry leaves and twigs.

Remnants of the reservoir still exist today, such as concrete steps, an old diving board and a bathing area. There are also new pipes and pumps, appearing to be in fine working conditions, linking to the reservoir that is only about one-third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

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Prior to the fifties, the reservoir was marked as a private property and, later, a swimming pool. In March 1948, the newspapers reported that a 17-year-old teen was drowned when he went swimming in the reservoir with two of his friends.

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The abandoned reservoir is situated near to No. 11 Keppel Hill, one of the grandest houses in the vicinity. There is also a mysterious tombstone of a Japanese naval engineer located at the top of the hill, about 100m from the reservoir.

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Published: 11 October 2014

Updated: 06 March 2016

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12 Responses to Exploring the Forgotten Keppel Hill Reservoir

  1. Eddy says:

    Did you try the Teh Tarik @ Lakshmi Vila? Think its the only prata shop around!

  2. Linda says:

    Wonderful post. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. ken says:

    Great post as always! and that’s an interesting mansion. Any history behind it?

  4. InfernusGuy says:

    Why is there a tombstone behind the reservoir.And who’s tombstone is that?

  5. zzzzzzz says:

    Are there fish inside?

  6. Soo Min says:

    You went into the 11 Keppel Hill abandoned entrance ? Steady man !!!

  7. Philip P says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for documenting this forgotten corner called Keppel Hill reservoir. I grew up in the Keppel Hill area. I lived there in the 1960’s from preschool to late teens. The reservoir’s iron gate was always padlocked and my group of friends & neighbours would climbed over the fence to get in. I remember the reservoir water was murky green with visibility of just few inches, but that didn’t stop us swimming there. However, I never dare to swim down to touch the bottom, but it was was deep on the concreted front end. Yes, I caught tilapia fishes with bamboo rod & line there, but nothing else. Back then the facility was already defunct but surrounding area was minimally maintained by the Harbour Board. The other better places to fish & swim were nearby for us were Labrador & Pasir Panjang, Mt Faber and forested Labrador tunnels & gun pill box turrets facing the harbour were great places for hiking.

    We stopped swimming in the reservoir after a drowning incident. I was at home and alerted by my neighbour that somebody is missing in the reservoir. I ran up to there to see whats all about. The people they were frantically trying to search in such murky water and no one dare to dive in to look. Someone might have run down Keppel Hill and alerted either the Harbour police. Then about half hour later a Mr Ball, the Harbour Board professional diver arrived with full gear and lights and retrieved the body promptly. The unlucky chap was an Indian teenage boy with a picnic group; I saw they came with mats and curry pots etc. It was indeed a sad day and what a way for me to stop go swimming there after that.

    Warm regards.

    • Jun Yang says:

      Noted with Thanks
      and thank you for sharing

      • Philip P says:

        Oh, sorry to acknowledge you so late. I’ve in fact lost this link for a while and stumble on it again! It appears that whoever designed & built this place had intended it as sort of recreation club kind of facility, albeit with no frills. I noticed last visited the place that Its location was chosen for economical use of concrete dam material over a natural hill slope’s depression. The concreted dam being the deeper end still has remnants of bolting and fixtures on the floor.. maybe had been a diving spring board, equipment rack or possibly lighting pole supports. The rest of the pond bottom just left as natural unpaved earth.

        However, this pond at Keppel Hill had probably not intended as a water supply reservoir. If you get hold of an old map (1950s or ’60s) you should be able to find a storage reservoir with pumping facility along Seah Im Road and located very close to Seah Im road Cable car tower. I believe it provided potable water to the residential area. I used to lived around this area. Hope this is of deeper interest to you.

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