Situated on a small hill that leads up to Mt Faber, the abandoned Keppel Hill Reservoir serves as a hidden sanctuary for thrill-seekers and urban explorers. Although its origins are unknown, it dates back more than a century, yet was absent from official maps for decades until it came to the attention of the National Heritage Board and local media in 2014.
Roughly one-third the size of an Olympic swimming pool, the enclosed body of water once served the needs of nearby residents, although its use shifted from hydration to swimming and leisure. The remnants of a diving board are still visible, and maps from the era of Japanese Occupation label the area as a swimming pool. Just as the reservoir may have brought bouts of laughter and enjoyment, it was also the site of some tragedy: Newspaper reports from the mid-1900s note several deaths due to drowning.
Emerging out of the jungle, the reservoir feels like a secret, if not a fairy tale. Nonetheless, it fell into disuse, possibly because its paltry size made it an ineffective water source. Today it is overrun by vegetation and overhanging branches that can exude a menacing aura. Still, the Keppel Hill Reservoir is evidence that much remains to be discovered even in the dense urban jungle that is Singapore, and that such landscapes still exist in the liminal space between public consciousness and history.
Know Before You Go
From Harbourfront MRT station, a 15-minute walk will take you to Wishart Rd. Turn right and walk up Keppel Hill. At the fork, take a left and follow the stone path all the way into the foliage where you will be greeted by the sight of the Keppel Hill Reservoir. Turning right at the fork would lead you to 11 Keppel Hill, which was formerly known as Keppel House.
While the site is in a public park, local authorities advise caution when exploring, as the reservoir has not been prepared for visitors and has potential to support wildlife. As of 2019, the organization My Heritage offers a tour that includes a visit to the reservoir.