Trickling with History

6 Aug 2013                      

My first article here on Water Chatter was about my fascination when I discovered that part of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the Cold War, was being displayed at Bedok Reservoir Park. Today, I want to rediscover parts of our water history.

Very few water wells still remain in Singapore. I can only think of one, which is on Ang Siang Hill, in Chinatown. Ang Siang Hill was once named Scott’s Hill, after Charles Scott, who planted clove and nutmeg on the hill. The history of the well isn’t well documented, but it is assumed that Charles Scott had built several wells on the hill to help him tend to his crops by obtaining water from an underground spring that ran through the area.

The wells remained even after the hill was sold to Chia Ann Siang, providing water for vendors, who would transport it down to the more urbanized areas via bullock carts, where they would be sold to people who needed the water. Unfortunately, all the wells on Ann Siang Hill have since been destroyed or demolished at some point, save for this one in Ang Siang Hill Park, which is the only remaining well in the area left standing today.

Water wells aren’t needed today, thanks to the $13,000 donation made by Tan Kim Seng in 1857 toward waterworks in Singapore. The construction of Singapore’s first reservoir, the Impounding Reservoir, known today as MacRitchie Reservoir, would not have been possible without this contribution. Unfortunately, he was never able to see the impact of his generous contribution because he passed away in 1864, three years before it was completed.

Tan_Kim_Seng_Fountain_3,_Aug_06 The Victorian-styled Tan Kim Seng Fountain was moved to the Esplanade Park in 1925, where it still stands today. (Image via Wikipedia)

The Tan Kim Seng Fountain was built to commemorate his contribution towards a modern water supply system. It was first unveiled at Fullerton Square in 1882, before it was moved to its current location at the Esplanade Park in 1925, when construction of the Fullerton Building began. Rustproofing and works to the foundation of the Victorian-styled fountain was done in 1994.

Of course, these aren’t the only places where our long journey toward water self-sufficiency is documented. There are plenty others for another time, in another post.

By Jax Sparrow

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