Upper Seletar Reservoir

The rocket-shaped viewing tower is perhaps the most prominent landmark at Upper Seletar Reservoir, which was constructed in 1920 as Singapore’s third impounding reservoir. Only MacRitchie Reservoir (its first stage was completed in 1867) and Lower Pierce Reservoir (1910) are older.

Pearl’s Hill Reservoir, on the other hand, is the oldest service reservoir still working in Singapore, completed in 1904. Most of the service reservoirs built in the British colonial era were demolished or became defunct. One of the earliest service reservoirs, the Mount Emily Reservoir, was constructed in the 1880s along Upper Wilkie Road to provide fresh water supply to the town.

Formerly known as Seletar Reservoir, the large water catchment lies in the central area of Singapore and is bounded by Mandai Road, Seletar Expressway (SLE), the Singapore Zoological Garden and the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

It was renamed as Upper Seletar Reservoir in 1992; at the same time, the Sungei Seletar Reservoir between Yishun and Seletar was given the name of Lower Seletar Reservoir. Sungei Seletar Reservoir, as its name suggests, was formed in 1986 by the damming of the Seletar river at its mouth. The dam later became popularly known as the Yishun Dam.

Seletar Reservoir was expanded several times since 1940. During the Second World War, it was heavily damaged when the nearby Nee Soon Village was air-raided by the Japanese invading forces, resulting in the disruption of water supply.

After the independence of Singapore, a massive expansion plan, costing S$27 million, was launched to increase capacity of Seletar Reservoir in order to meet the growing population. The construction took almost two years, improving the reservoir capacity to grow four times to 5,000 million gallons.

When it was completed in 1969, Seletar Reservoir was the largest reservoir in Singapore. The official opening was held in August 1969 by Princess Alexandra (born 1936), the cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, to commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the founding of Singapore.

By 2012, there is a total of 17 reservoirs in Singapore, including the one at Pulau Tekong. Marina Reservoir is the newest reservoir when the Marina Barrage was completed in 2008.

One can also spot a rare merry-go-round at the Upper Seletar Reservoir. It is one of the three remaining merry-go-rounds left in Singapore; the other two being located at Tiong Bahru and Yio Chu Kang Road respectively. Merry-go-rounds were once abundant in Singapore, but after 1993, along with the older generation of playgrounds, they were slowly phased out due to safety concerns.

Published: 21 November 2012

Updated: 07 May 2013

8 Responses to Upper Seletar Reservoir

  1. The “rocket” of Seletar Reservoir in the late 1960s…

    (Source: Facebook Group “On a little street in Singapore”)

  2. mountshore says:

    I remember primary school (Strathmore Primary School) ‘excursion’. There is this well to do boy that packed Beef Rendang for the excursion. While the rest of us with only plain bread and margarine.
    I remember his generosity when he offered me and my friends (the outcast) his ‘rendang’. We finished up his rendang and he ended up eating my bread with margarine!!
    If he ever read this…. Sorry but Thank You!!

  3. Ravon11 says:

    I don’t really know the history.. Admin, how about featuring the Singapore very 1st race track, very near seletar along Upper Thomson road if I am not wrong..

  4. Pradeep says:

    How to get there from Woodlands interchange. does any bus services from woodlands R. Interchange or should be take taxi ?? Thanks for your information.

  5. Gene Tan says:

    Just so everyone knows. The ‘rocket’ was designer by Mr. Goh Peng Koon. He also designed the zig zag Bridge at MacRitchie Reservoir. He isn’t a famous nor was he a qualified architect, but a humble PUB draughtsman. Still lets give credit where credit is due. Thank you Mr. Goh.

  6. Petrina says:

    Hi! Anyone know why is it the tower built like a rocket? And is there anything that is no longer there but you guys wish that it should be conserved? Thank you!

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