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Melody Zaccheus
Sunday, Oct 12, 2014

Singapore

Sleepy neighbourhood wakes up to curious find

The Straits Times | Melody Zaccheus | Sunday, Oct 12, 2014

Reverend Isaac Raju, pictured in front of Pasir Panjang Tamil Methodist Church along Wishart Road on 9 October 2014.

SINGAPORE - Despite being just a stone's throw from HarbourFront and VivoCity, an air of sleepy tranquillity hangs over the Wishart Road neighbourhood.

Few people, apart from regulars, step into the area, home to the likes of Shipmart, a store which sells concoctions such as crocodile oil for the skin, San Laksa Steamboat, ReEvolution bike shop and coffee shop Lakshmi Vilas.

Bounded by Henderson Road and Telok Blangah Road, and sitting in between Mount Faber and Labrador Nature Reserve, the estate takes about 15 minutes for you to walk through it.

It also houses offices, places of worship, landed homes and The Foresta at Mount Faber condominium.

This serene area has had more people trickling in though, since it was reported last month that the National Heritage Board (NHB) had rediscovered a 2m-deep, century-old reservoir off Wishart Road.

Mr Gowtham Manoharan, 25, third-generation owner of Lakshmi Vilas Restaurant at Block 16, Morse Road, said he had been approached by about 15 curious visitors who were hoping to see the mysterious, emerald green body of water for themselves.

"They came here with their cameras to seek out an adventure of their own," he said.

Called Keppel Hill Reservoir, it first appeared in a 1905 Tanjong Pagar Dock Arbitration map.

Based on a 1924 Singapore Harbour Board map, it was the largest of three reservoirs in the area and most likely served residents of a nearby settlement. Later, it was used as a swimming pool.

There has been keen public interest in the forgotten reservoir - an NHB documentary on it has got almost 60,000 views since its launch on Sept 16.

The board will also be conducting eight tours of the area on Oct 18 and 25.

But some, such as architect Chang Yong Ter, 45, who has a studio in Wishart Road, said the reservoir's surroundings are also worthy of a closer look and study.

For instance, Block 16, Morse Road is one of 16 two-storey blocks that used to stand in the area.

They had served as the living quarters for staff of the former Port of Singapore Authority, said Mr Chang. Now, Block 16 is the only one left standing.

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