Thursday, January 22, 2015

Keppel Hill Reservoir ( The Lost Reservoir )

On September 2014, the National Heritage Board (NHB) announced they discovered an abandoned and forgotten reservoir nestled at the slopes of Mount Faber or Keppel Hill. It was reported that this body of water started operating as far back as 1905 and served the water needs of the Singapore Harbour / Tanjong Pagar Docks nearby. It continued to be a reservoir and articles dating to 1948 called it the Keppel Hill Reservoir. Subsequently, it became a place for swimming and at one point, it was a private swimming pool. 

When i visited there, i saw a diesel pump with pipes leading to the reservoir, probably drawing fresh water from there a well as broken pots. It could be from the landscaping company nearby (Joaquim Garden and Landscape). Prior to this there was a video clip by Straits Times Razor TV, where the Goh brothers, Raymond and Charles brought a video journalist here and they were conducting tours here even before September 2014. So, this body of water was not really forgotten as reported. The supposedly re-discovery of the Keppel Hill Reservoir nevertheless brought interest to a broader audience and with that allowed many heritage enthusiast such as myself to pay a visit ! I didn't follow a guided tour, but went there on my own.  

Getting There 
Nearest MRT: Harbour Front 
Take the Harbour Front Bus Interchange exit and walk towards bus stop number 14139.

Public Transport: Bus Stop Number : 14139 - Before Seah Im Road. 
From the bus stop, walk towards Wishart Road. At the junction, you should see a sign that leads to Joaquim Garden & Landscape (Keppel Hill Road). Walk along this path that leads towards Keppel House No 11. Just before this, you should see a road sloping downwards on your left to a wooded area. From here, there are only man made jungle trail that leads to the reservoir. Tread carefully especially after a rainy day, but it should not be hard to find, if you look for the key markers including a concrete column over a drain. Swing right and you see the reservoir.  
[September 2020 Update: The Joacquim Garden & Landscape is no longer in business there]

Route to the Keppel Hill Reservoir / Lost Reservoir
Route to the Keppel Hill Reservoir / Lost Reservoir hand drawn using OneMap 

Below is a 1954 which clearly shows the reservoir in relation to No 11 Keppel House. But there is no longer any label that indicates it was a reservoir. 

Location of the Keppel Hill Reservoir and No 11 Keppel House
source: Map of Singapore City, 1954. Survey Department of the Federation of Malaya

Keppel Hill Reservoir
Keppel Hill Reservoir 

Keppel Hill Reservoir
Keppel Hill Reservoir 

Keppel Hill Reservoir
hole slates for excess water to flow out from reservoir  

Keppel Hill Reservoir
Spot the toad 

Keppel Hill Reservoir
View of the reservoir from concrete steps 

Keppel Hill Reservoir / Lost Reservoir
Rusted hinges of a diving spring board 

Keppel Hill Reservoir / Lost Reservoir
Danger No Swimming No Fishing 

House No. 11 Keppel Hill House
House No. 11 Keppel Hill House 

Drowning in Keppel Hill Reservoir 
In March 26, 1948, a 17 year old boy by the name of Chew Teik Pin drowned while swimming at the reservoir.

Related Article
For the brave and the bold, there is a Japanese Memorial Tomb up the slopes of where the Keppel Hill Reservoir is. It is a steep slope climb to get there. (not advisable on a wet day as the slopes can be muddy). Read about it here > Japanese Memorial Tomb (Near Mount Faber), posted on May 5, 2016.

[September 2020 Update]
To get to the Japanese Memorial Tomb from the Reservoir is a simple affair now as the path is well marked by trackers. If you are coming from the reservoir, you will make up the steps from the reservoir until you see the below fence, 
Make a right after the fallen fence 

Follow the white tape

The brick stair case telling you are almost there 

Read about it here > Japanese Memorial Tomb (Near Mount Faber), posted on May 5, 2016.

Youth Drown in Reservoir. (1948, April 4). The Straits Times
"Lost" reservoir historically significant: NHB. [website]. AsiaOne.
Abandoned Reservoir off Telok Blangah. [website] Straits Times

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Birdwatching in Bidadari (January 18, 2015)

2015 is the final year of birdwatching in Bidadari. I returned last Sunday and was rewarded this time round with various sightings of the Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo.

Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo in Bidadari
Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo

Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo in Bidadari
Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo

Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo in Bidadari
Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo

Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo in Bidadari
Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo

Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo
Hodgson's hawk-cuckoo
There were other beautiful birds too, that either call Bidadari their home or as part of their fuel stop on their migratory path.
Rusty-breasted cuckoo
Rusty-breasted cuckoo

Asian brown flycatcher
Asian brown flycatcher

Asian brown flycatcher
Asian brown flycatcher

Asian brown flycatcher
Asian brown flycatcher

Dollar Bird
Dollar Bird

Brown Shrike
Brown Shrike
Lineated Barbet in Bidadari
Lineated Barbet 

See also previous post on Bidadari :
Birdwatching before New Year 2015, posted on on January 01, 2015
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Raptors spotted (December, 2014), posted on December 26, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Local Residents (December, 2014), posted on December 16, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Blue-winged Pitta (December, 2014), posted on December 14, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari (November 9, 2014), posted on November 9, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Jambu Fruit Dove ( December 6 ), posted on December 6, 2013
Birdwatching in Bidadari ( November 3, 2013), posted on November 3, 2013
Weaving through Bidadari (Muslim Cemetery), posted on October 17, 2013
Weaving through Bidadari (Alkaff Gardens and Lake), posted on October 8, 2013
Weaving through Bidadari (Birdwatching), posted on October 14, 2013
Bidadari (17 December), posted on December 18, 2012
Saving Bidadari, posted on December 5, 2012
Bidadari (7 December), posted on December 9, 2012
Bidadari (18 November), posted on November 18, 2012

Monday, January 19, 2015

Woon Hong Chin (Bukit Brown)

While exploring Hill 3 Division A, i came across a modern looking tomb that is maintained and be cleaned.The tomb belongs to a Madam Wong Ah Hoh and inscribed on it: 

Memory of Mrs Woon Hong Chin nee Wong Ah Hoh, born October 23, 1879 - May 15, 1951. Tomb erected by Woon Hong Chin and children. 

Mr. Woon Hong Chin was the Chief Clerk and Administrative Head of the Accounts Department, Singapore Municipality when he eventually retired in 1929. When Woon Hong Chin reached his mandatory retirement age of 55 in 1928, it was further renewed for a period of 6 months from January 1, 1929. Woon Hong Chin was also at one-time, the Chairman of the Chinese Swimming Club Building Fund and Committee Member of the Swimming Club.

There was even an article dated March 1910, where he cut of his queue (pigtail). 

Woon Hong Chin

Mrs Woon Hong Chin nee Wong Ah Hoh


Anthony Woon Hong Chin passed away at the age of 92 at No. 1 Walton Road on May 19, 1954. The funeral services were held at Queen Peace Church and he was buried at Bidadari.

1 Walton Road

From the family home of 1 Walton Road, i found a connection to a Joseph Woon Seck Koon, who is likely the son of Mr. and Mrs. Woon Hong Chin.

Joseph Woon Seck Koon passed away on May 3, 1958.  The funeral left from 1 Walton Road and services were held at Queen Peace Church before burial at Bidadari. Mrs Woon Seck Koon (Elizabeth Chew Wai Mun) passed away on June 16, 1968.

Untitled. (1910, March 12). The Straits Times
Municipal Farewell Group. (1929, June 29). Malayan Saturday Post.
Death. (1958, May 4). The Straits Times
Death. (1964, May 20). The Straits Times

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Kapitan Tan Sin Kiat (Bukit Brown)

In Hill 4 Block C, the tomb of a Kapitan Cina of Singkep with Dutch and Chinese inscription was uncovered. This is good news especially after the destruction of the last two known dutch inscribed tombs (Tan Tang Hoaj and Wiseje De Haay)as they were in the path of the highway. Singkep is an island in Indonesia which produces tin ore for export and the majority of the Chinese community there would have likely been involved in tin mining.

Tan Sin Kiat was appointed as Lieutenant Cina for Singkep (luitenant der Chineezen op het eiland Singkep) and this was reported in the Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad on September 29, 1921. The titular rank of captain of the Chinese was awarded to: Kho Siang Ching, lieutenant of the Chinese to Demak. Tan Sin Kiat, Lieutenant of the Chinese to Dabo, Riau residence and dependencies. Jap Soen Hiang, lieutenant of the Chinese Pangkalan Brandan in 1931 and this was reported in the Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad on August 29, 1931.

Kapitan Tan Sin Kiat passed away at the age of 66 in February 17, 1938 at Hill 4 Block C plot 1256. His wife Madam Chew Siew Poh passed away at the age of age of 75 on July 14, 1953. She is buried beside her husband at Hill 4 Block C plot 1238.

Tan Sin Kiat tomb with inscription in Dutch
Tan Sin Kiat inscription in Dutch

Hier Rust Mijn Lieve Vader 
Tan Sin Kiat
Kapitein Der Chineezen Van Singkep
Geboren Te Semarang 25 October 1872
Overleed Te General Hospitaal (Singapore) 17 Februari 1938

Here Rest My Dear Father
Tan Sin Kiat
Kapitan Cina of Singkep
Born in Semarang 25 October 1872
Died in General Hospitaal (Singapore) 17 February 1938

Tan Sin Kiat and Madam Chew Siew Poh
Tomb of Mr and Mrs Tan Sin Kiat uncovered
source: Delpher Kranten

source: Delpher Kranten


Son (Zoon)
Tan Gek Song

Daughters (Dochters)
Tan Beng Nio 
Tan Kang Nio 

Grandsons (Kleinzonen)
Tan In Sien
The Khoen Goean
Tjoea Djim Sien
Tjoea Tjeng Kang 

Grand daughters (Kleindochters)  
Tan Boe Lat 
The Go Lie
Tjoea Jan Gwee

Epitaph and also information on his children and grandchildren 
Chew Siew Poh 
From, there was a record of the family tree which corresponds closely with Tan Sin Kiat, his son and one of his grandsons that are also mentioned in the gravestones. Tan Sin Kiat married Chew Siew Poh and had one son, Tan Gek Song

Tan Gek Song married Theresa Wee Swee Neo and has one son, Gerald Tan In Sin (born February 13, 1926). This three names are mentioned on the grave stone as well. The geni record is managed by an Agnes Tan Swee Tin, who is the daughter of Gerald Tan In Sin.  


An island off Sumatra, it was under the influence of the Sultan of Lingga and was producing tin even back in the 1860's. The tin rights was eventually managed by a private Dutch firm, the Singkep Tin Mining Company under the auspices of the Dutch East Indies government. Singkep Island was well known for its tin deposits but not at the same stature as tin deposits from places such as Billiton and Banka. The tin deposit  ore mined from Singkep were shipped on a regular basis to Singapore for smelting by the Straits Trading Company.  There was a report in the papers on production of minerals from the Dutch East Indies that tin production for the year 1901-1902 was mainly from Banka (171,133 piculs or 10,350 tonnes ), Billiton (79,244 piculs or 4,790 tonnes) and finally Singkep (7,977 or 482 tonnes).
Screenshot of Singkep Island from Google Maps
Chinese laborers working in Sinkep Tin Company having a meal
(source: Wikimedia Commons)


Singkep Tin Co. (1900, December 18). The Straits Times.
Netherlands India Minerals. (1903, August 22). The Straits Times
Micellaneous Column. (1941, March 17). The Singapore Free Press
Hillman, J. (2010). The international tin cartel. Routledge.
Chinese laborers working in Singkep Tin Company having a meal. Wikimedia Commons

Related Post

Kapitan China Wee Chim Yean of Bengkalis
Kapitan China Wee Leong Tan of Bengkalis
Majoor Wee Boon Teng of Selat Panjang

Friday, January 02, 2015

Chia Thian Hock and family (Bukit Brown)

The beautiful large ceramic picture of a tomb in Hill 3 Division B, Plot 170 caught my eye. After some cleaning up, it was the tomb of Mrs Chia Thian Hock ( Chia Thiam Hock),born on February 5, 1888 and died on September 5, 1930 at the age of 42. The obituary confirmed with what is inscribed in the tomb, that Mrs Chia Thian Hock nee Lee Siew Hiok passed away at the age of 43  at her residence in No. 69 Cuppage Road on Friday, 5th September 1930. She is survived by 8 sons: Chia Poh Eng, Chia Poh Chiang, Chia Poh Koon, Chia Poh Leng, Chia Poh Yian, Chia Poh Yong, Chia Poh Chuan, Chia Poh Chye, 5 daughters: Chia Siew Gim, Chia Siew Kim, Chia Siew Wan,  Chia Siew Hong, Chia Sia Kim and 1 daughter-in-law. There was an acknowledgement by Mr. Chia Thian Hock thanking those who attended the wake at his residence in No. 69 Cuppage Road.

Mrs Chia Thian Hock nee Madam Lee Siew Hiok

Mrs Chia Thian Hock
Chia Thian Hock (Chia Thiam Hock) of chop Hiap Thye Chiang is a property owner and one of the directors in The Asia Insurance Co. Ltd ( a company listed in the Straits Settlement). He is an Honorary Vice President of the Hoi Thian Amateur Dramatic Association which many prominent Chinese businessman also are members including Tan Kah Kee, Lady Shaw, Eu Tong Seng, Liau Chia Heng (Leow Chia Heng), Lim Nee Soon and many others.


Child Welfare Society, Nan Hua School Fund, Singapore Jubilee Fund,


Son: Chia Poh Chiang
Chia Poh Chiang married Miss Lee Neo Chia in March 28, 1937 at the Chinese Consulate. Chia Poh Chiang was the Director and Manager of the Thye Hong Biscuit and Confectionery Factory, Ltd in Alexandra Road. The Chairman and Managing Director of Thye Hong Biscuit during that time was Mr. Lee Gee Chong.

Chia Poh Chiang passed away at the age of 79 on November 20th, 1993 while his wife Madam Lee Nee Cheow passed away on March 10 1982 at the age of 68.  They are survived by 3 daughters, Dr Irene Chia, Helen Chia and Serene Chia and many grandsons and grand daughters. 

Son: Chia Poh Koon
In September 1937, there was an announcement of a union of two wealthy families, Chia Poh Koon (son of Chia Thiam Hock, proprietor of Chop Hiap Thai Chiang and Mrs Chia Thiam Hock) with Miss Lim Siew Khim (daughter of Mr. Lim Peng Siang, proprietor of Ho Hong Co. and Mrs Lim Peng Siang. Chia Poh Yong was the Best Man.

Mrs Joseph Chia Poh Koon nee Elizabeth Lim Siew Khim passed away on February 16, 1970. She was survived by her husband, son Peter Chia, daughters Patricia Bee Nah and Winnie.  Chia Poh Koon passed away at the age of 71 on January 6, 1986.

Advertisement. (1925, April 2). The Straits Times
Child Welfare Society. (1925, March 4). The Straits Times
Domestic Occurrences. (1930, September 8). The Straits Times
Acknowledgement. (1930, September 10). The Straits Times
Wealthy Chinese Family United in Singapore. (1937, September 1937). The Straits Times
1,500 tons every month. (1952, November 11). The Straits Times

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Birdwatching before New Year 2015

The last 3 days before the start of the New Year as been days which the weather was cloudy and downcast. It made walking outdoors great because of the lovely breeze but the prospects of rain and dark skies made bird watching really challenging. The last 3 days, i did some nature walks to Sungai Buloh, Bidadari and Tampines Echo Green. Below are some of the consolidated pictures of my nature trips in the tail end of 2014. Here's wishing everyone a blessed New Year 2015

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 
The highlight of the trip is the sighting of 3 different estuarine crocodile's in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
estuarine crocodile in sungei buloh wetland reserve
Estuarine Crocodile
estuarine crocodile in sungei buloh wetland reserve
Estuarine Crocodile
estuarine crocodile in sungei buloh wetland reserve
Estuarine Crocodile
Milky Stork in sungei buloh wetland reserve
Milky Stork 
Striated Heron 
Former Malay Cemetery at Bidadari 
I have been making regular trips to Bidadari. In some occasions you can see many birds there but in others, you be lucky to spot a few.

Indian Cuckoo in Bidadari
Indian Cuckoo

Rusty Breasted Cuckoo

Flycatcher (i think Asian Brown)

Indian Cuckoo

Tampines Eco Green
Tampines Eco Green sprung a surprise for me when i caught sight of the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo and the Rufous Cuckoo in my visit there.
chestnut-winged cuckoo in Tampines Eco
Chestnut-winged cuckoo

rufous woodpecker in Tampines Eco
Rufous woodpecker

Baya Weaver in Tampines Eco
Baya Weaver

Lesser Flameback (Male) in Tampines Eco
Lesser Flameback (Male)

Blue Glassy Tiger

Plain Tiger