Former National Aerated Water Company

In 1929, three businessmen Yap Shing Min, Cheng Sze Boo and Tan Kah Woo established the National Aerated Water Company at Hamilton Road, off Lavender Street. It was 1954 when the company moved its premises to the new $500,000 factory near Moonstone Lane, off Serangoon Road, which was fondly known as ow gang sar kok jio (Hougang 3rd milestone) in the old days.

Located just beside the south bank of the Kallang River, the Art Deco-styled building was able to produce 48,000 bottles of soft drinks everyday, double the production of the old plant at Hamilton Road.

When it was opened in the mid-1920s, National Aerated Water Company was looking to gain a significant market share in the soft drink industry from established rival brands such as Fraser and Neave Limited (F&N) (established in 1883) as well as new competitor in Phoenix Aerated Water Works (opened in 1924).

The company managed to survive the Second World War, when the Japanese invading forces occupied Malaya and Singapore. During the difficult period, there were only 20 workers producing the soft drinks with the limited sugar they received from the authorities.

National Aerated Water Company became a private limited company in 1948, and four years later, it obtained the manufacturing and distribution rights of Sinalco (“鲜拿果” in Chinese). The soft drink from then West Germany turned out to be a hit in Malaya and Singapore.

By the end of the fifties, the company was already supplying Sinalco to the whole of Malaya, including Sabah and Sarawak.

The year 1964 marked an important chapter in National Aerated Water Company’s history as it opened a new subsidiary plant in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. Producing 600,000 bottles of Sinalco a month in its initial stage, the company was in a better strategic location to supply Malaya, with the exception of Johore which was supplied directly from Singapore. Lorries and vans carrying the bottled drinks left the factory every morning; one of their destinations was Ipoh, a distribution centre that could hold two weeks’ of stock.

By the mid-1960s, the company enjoyed a 30% increase in sales, with 1.3 million bottles of Sinalco consumed by the people in Malaya and Singapore.

As the company expanded from the sixties to the eighties, National Aerated Water Company added Kickapoo, Singacol and Fanta to their production, where these soft drinks went on to become popular household brands.

By the nineties, the company went into a decline and shut down eventually. The factory was abandoned after its closure. In 2007, there were calls to preserve the iconic old building of National Aerated Water Company, but since the premises is still privately owned, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) could only place it under its consideration list.

At the restricted compound of the National Aerated Water Company, one can still spot the old private petrol pump that was used for its transport in the past.

Published: 06 August 2012

34 Responses to Former National Aerated Water Company

  1. A newspaper advert of Kickapoo by National Aerated Water Company on the Straits Times in 1969

  2. Ben says:

    Excellent work! How about a write-up on the Victoria Street Wholesale Centre? It is gone now by the way.

  3. Passerby says:

    Do you know if Sinlaco is being sold still. I believe i’ve seen Kickapo or Fanta now moving to F&N or Coca-Cola but don’t recall Sinlaco nowadays.

    • Samuel Giam says:

      Oh! If you’re talking about Kickapoo, the drink’s rights was once franchised to Pokka (Singapore), and was reverted back to the Monarch Drinks Co. after Pokka made the brand popular. However for Fanta, only last year (2011) when F&N and Coca-Cola in Singapore split and spun off then we Singaporeans again taste our local version of the Fanta drinks made by Coca-Cola (Singapore).

  4. TY says:

    Thank you for this article! I grew up in the St. Michael’s Road area, and since the 1990s, have been curious about this building as well as the history of the area. I wonder if you came across other bits of history, for example, opposite the river (now the private pink-coloured condominium) there used to be another soft drinks factory. On the art deco facade with the flagpole, there used to be a big Sinalco or Kickapoo logo.

  5. What’s your favourite old school soft drink?

  6. nath says:

    Schweppes Cream soda and orangina are my favourite
    Where do we get schweppes cream soda’s now?

  7. Linda says:

    Green Spot 🙂 F&N Orange is a must for Chinese New Year of yesteryears, without it Chinese New Year wouldn’t beChinese New Year 🙂

  8. budak says:

    a former fireman who worked at Central Fire Station in the 1960s told me that opposite the station, the company had premises (factory?) as well spanning three shophouses by Hill Street now occupied by Funan Centre

  9. Eastern Aerated Water Company Ltd (东方汽水有限公司) was another soft drink manufacturer in Singapore many decades ago. It started in Middle Road before moving to Geylang Road in 1951, where its operation lasted until the eighties.
    Its former premises with the name still stand at the junction of Geylang Road and Geylang Lorong 22.

  10. rufino1995 says:

    Ah, Yes, used to see this building when going to school (St Andrew’s) and church.. in the ow gang area from 60’s onward… (60’s there is a round-a-about called Woodsville circus.. )
    During my school days most of my classmates would drink either coke or pepsi.. I would be the very few who would drink Kickapoo.. and whenever I go to the supermarket & come across it now, I will buy a couple of cans to relive those moments, so joyous!! 🙂

  11. Mobile drink stalls were once very popular, selling bottled chrysanthemum, soya bean and other soft drinks in the evenings, such as this stall at Wallich Street c.1979

    (Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore)

  12. Linda says:

    It’s a pity to see all these places which held our memories, gone. But that’s the unavoidable reality of scarce land here.

  13. Dennis Gordon says:

    I once remembered a drink called Sinalco and Vimto.

  14. Haley says:

    The place is locked up? Possible to go in?

  15. Sera says:

    I used to walk past the factory in the 90s on the way the bus stop to get to school.
    I remember that there were 2 ladies working in the front office and they kept 2 very fierce dogs there but they were friendly to me.
    I would always get very cheap cups of drinks from the vending machine just inside the front gate. but the problem is.. sometimes the cups would have ants in it!

  16. sam tan says:

    Does anybody know the status of the owner operator by the name of possibly Wong meng par


    For decades, Yeo Hiap Seng (YHS) has been bottling and distributing for PepsiCo (until 30 June 2016), while Fraser & Neave (F&N) produced, bottled and sold Coca-Cola’s drinks (from 1937 till 2011).

  18. Elis says:

    Is the place locked up? Can we enter without trespassing?

  19. Well, we know such a prime plot of land in Singapore won’t be sitting neglected for long…

    National Aerated Water sells Serangoon Road site to Malaysia developer

    09 December 2016
    The Straits Times

    Malaysia-listed developer Selangor Dredging is buying a freehold site in Serangoon Road from National Aerated Water Company for $47 million. The plot at 1177 Serangoon Road has a two-storey art-deco-styled industrial building on the site.

    National Aerated Water Company, which was known for its distributorship of soda pops such as Sinalco and Kickapoo Joy Juice, operated a bottled soft drinks factory there until operations ceased in the 1990s.

    Selangor Dredging told Bursa Malaysia in a Wednesday filing that the acquisition was made via Tiara Land, a unit of Champsworth Development, which is a 50 per cent-owned associate company of its subsidiary SDB International.

    Savills Singapore, the property’s exclusive marketing agent, told The Straits Times that the tender attracted “healthy interest from both local and foreign developers”.

    Apart from the $47 million land cost, there would be an additional $22.66 million payable in estimated development charges to intensify land use from an industrial to residential purpose, Savills added.

    The total outlay translates to $785 psf per plot ratio.

    Selangor Dredging said the acquisition will be funded by a mix of “internally generated funds and/or bank borrowings by Tiara Land”.

    The site, which is along the Kallang River, has a land area of 31,705 sq ft and an allowable gross floor area of 88,775 sq ft based on a plot ratio of 2.8. It could potentially yield 117 apartments averaging 70 sq m (about 754 sq ft) each, Savills added.

    Selangor Dredging noted that the property is in the “prime District 12” and in an established city-fringe residential location, near commercial and recreational amenities. Savills noted that the site is also near the Potong Pasir MRT station.

    “In view of the strategic location of the property, Selangor Dredging is optimistic on the prospects of the proposed development to be undertaken on the land,” it said in the stock exchange filing.

    It added that the acquisition is subject to risks inherent in Singapore’s property development industry, including adverse changes in real estate market prices, changes in demand and competition from other developers.

  20. delvingoh says:

    Annualized ROI of half a million for 63yrs : 7.48%/yr

  21. Good news! Moving this under the “conserved” category..

    Old National Aerated Water Co building in Serangoon will be conserved, says URA

    15 December 2017
    The Straits Times

    The main building of a former bottling factory, the former National Aerated Water Co, will be partially conserved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
    The main building comprises a two-storey L-shaped structure facing Serangoon Road. Other features that will be retained include its signage tower, a balcony with brick parapets, Art Deco timber transom panels and a concrete sun shading ledge that spirals out of a circular window.

    The conserved building will be integrated into a new residential development and kept fenceless along the main road and the river.

    The authority said in a release on Friday (Dec 15) that the building’s new owner, Selangor Dredging, “is supportive of the conservation efforts and is working closely with URA to keep the building as part of our national history”.

    Last December, the company sold its freehold site, home to the landmark, to Malaysia-listed developer Selangor Dredging for $47 million. The site has a land area of 31,705 sq ft and an allowable gross floor area of 88,775 sq ft, based on a plot ratio of 2.8. It is near Potong Pasir MRT station and can yield 117 apartments averaging 70 sq m.

    Selangor Dredging’s managing director Teh Lip Kim said the building will be transformed into a “unique and lively commercial area” located next to a park connector, adjacent to the Kallang River.
    “We are keen to contribute to sustainable projects where we can, and will put in our best effort to make these projects distinctive,” she added.

    The URA said the reconstruction of a corner of the building and its internal floors will be required to facilitate the conserved building’s adaptive re-use and to allow vehicular access to the rear of the site.

    The authority said it will work closely with the building owner to guide this reconstruction.

  22. The Jui Residences condo construction has begun… Things will never be the same again

  23. Stephen Ang says:

    Update to currently being developed into a condo development. Sad!

  24. Jui Residences TOP estimated (vacant possession) is 3Q 2021

  25. Tirath says:

    Thanks for these photos! Brings back memories. I lived the first seven years of my life in the Moonstone Lane kampung adjoining this factory. Would be very grateful for any photos of the kampung. Can only find photos of the Toa Pek Kong temple.

  26. National Aerated Water Building on the market for $18.9 mil

    1 April 2022
    Yahoo Finance Singapore

    The two-storey National Aerated Water Building has been restored and given a new lease of life by Malaysian property developer Selangor Dredging. It is integrated with the new 18-storey Jui Residences. Launched for sale in Sept 2018, the 117-unit Jui Residences was fully sold three years later at an average price of $1,756 psf. The development was originally scheduled for completion in 2022 but was said to have obtained its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) last October.

    The heritage two-storey building has a 30m frontage along Serangoon Road and direct access to the park connectors along Kallang River. Its riverside location means it has stunning waterfront views. The standalone building was fully refurbished and renovated, obtaining its TOP in September 2021.

    Built in 1954, the Art Deco-style building is a landmark along Serangoon Road. Formerly the bottling factory for soft drinks such as Sinalco, Kickapoo Joy Juice and Royal Crown Cola, it is one of the last few remaining structures along the stretch of Kallang River that reflect the area’s rich industrial past, and contribute to the heritage of the Kallang River, according to URA.

    The statutory board had announced that the building would be gazetted for conservation in December 2017. This was a year after Selangor Dredging purchased the 31,705 sq ft, freehold site and the building from the National Aerated Water Co. in December 2016 for $47 million.

    While the rest of the factory had been demolished, the two-storey, L-shaped main building of the National Aerated Water Co. was retained. Architectural details that have been conserved include its signage, flagstaff, fair-faced brickwork parapets and Art Deco timber transom panels. Selangor Dredging has also restored the old petrol pump which is prominently displayed in the outdoor area. The outdoor floor tiles at the porch have also been inspired by mosaic floor tiles from the 1950s on the old factory floor.

    Even the architectural design and façade of Jui Residences, which is a new development, pays homage to the conserved building. The design architect for Jui Residences is London-based architectural firm CarverHaggard.

    With Jui Residences fully sold and the project completed, Selangor Dredging has now decided to put the National Aerated Water Building on the market for sale at a price tag of $18.9 million. Based on the total strata area of 6,555 sq ft, the price works out to $2,883 psf. The property was last put up for sale by expression of interest (EOI) last August, with CBRE as the marketing agent. “While there were a handful of offers, they did not meet the owner’s expectation and the decision was made to withdraw the property to be relaunched later,” says Clemence Lee, CBRE senior director of capital markets who is handling the sale of the National Aerated Water Building.

    The building will be relaunched later this month at the same indicative price. While it has three separate strata titles — one for each floor, including the roof terrace that is designated for communal use — the building will be sold collectively as a whole, says Lee.

    The first level of the building has two units. The front unit that is larger at 2,454 sq ft has been approved for use as a restaurant. According to Lee, the space is ideal for a café or a bistro, especially with the front porch of the building approved for use as an outdoor refreshment area. Behind the F&B unit is a 689 sq ft shop unit. The rooftop communal area can be used by the F&B operator as a bar, subject to approval from the MCST (management corporation strata title) board and the relevant authorities.

    The second level, which is column-free, is designated for use as an office and has an open floor plate of 3,412 sq ft as well as a ceiling height of 3.5m. Those who are looking for office space in the city fringe will find it convenient as the property is located within 650m of the Potong Pasir MRT station and 850m of the Boon Keng MRT station, both of which are on the Northeast Line.

    The F&B units will benefit from a ready catchment of residents from the 117-unit Jui Residences that is fully sold and about 4,900 residential units near Potong Pasir, notes CBRE’s Lee. It is also within the Bendemeer planning subzone, which has a population of about 37,590 as of June 2020, according to URA.

    “The location, freehold tenure, F&B approval on the ground floor and proximity to two MRT stations will ensure that the successful buyer of the two-storey building enjoys strong capital appreciation in the mid- to long-term,” says Lee.

    As a commercial building, foreigners are eligible to purchase and the transaction will not be subject to Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) or Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD). “The National Aerated Water Building presents an excellent opportunity for investors or owner-occupiers to acquire one of Singapore’s most iconic landmarks along the Kallang River,” says Lee.

    “With limited future supply of strata commercial units, the new owner can buy the whole building and sell the individual strata units at a later stage,” he adds.

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