The HIStory of Thomson Road Reservoir

18 Oct 2013                 

The MacRitchie Reservoir is Singapore’s oldest reservoir with history spanning more than two centuries. 

Like diamonds on silk, the calm water glistens in the ray of rising light as the beautiful sound of birds greets the old friend of yesterday – the morning sun.

A couple of retirees stroll along the boardwalk, while joggers and hikers break sweats traversing through the nature trails. Somewhere under that big old tree, a group of elderly gentlemen dressed in white, move their limbs in unison, gently but with precision, to the ancient art of Taiji.

These are some of the activities, sights and sounds that the locals and nearby residents can enjoy at the MacRitchie Reservoir – a place to be cloaked in serenity and sheltered from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Since the introduction of Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme in 2006, PUB, the national water agency has opened some of the local reservoirs for water-based recreational activities such as kayaking and canoeing. Driven by the vision of sparkling rivers with landscaped banks, kayakers paddling leisurely in the streams with clean waterways flowing into the picturesque lakes, Singapore has undertaken the challenge of transforming the island into a City of Gardens and Water. (Source:

For example, the MacRitchie Reservoir has gone through a couple of major makeovers in the last few years, which include a green two-storey carpark with 300 parking lots, an amenities centre and the submerged boardwalk – where you can literally walk on water! The iconic bandstand and zigzag bridge, which was gazetted as a heritage building in 2009, has also been refurbished.

The bandstand is not the only print in history that this reservoir has stamped. Do you know that Singapore’s oldest reservoir was once known as Thomson Road Reservoir?

In 1857, the Singapore Municipality, forerunner of the City Council and the Public Utilities Board, was established to clean and light the streets of Singapore, dispose garbage, control the erection of new buildings and provide water for the city. (Source: PUB, the national water agency)

An appeal for funding for the Thomson Road Reservoir was sent to the Government of India, who was responsible for the administration of Singapore. It was not until 1864 was the loan approved and the earth embankment to create the reservoir was constructed.

In 1891, the reservoir was extended under the supervision of a Municipal engineer, James MacRitchie. The reservoir was later renamed in 1894, in honour of the man.

If you are thinking of heading down to MacRitchie Reservoir this weekend, but you are not too sure how to get there – You may wish to download the mobile app: “MyWaters” from iTunes, Google Play and Windows Phone Store. Look for the ABC Waters tab, click on the “Address” tab and the app will automatically route you to MacRitchie Reservoir. Have fun!

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Walking hand in hand, two lovers embark on a romantic walk around the park, while watching the sun fade away behind the reserves.

By Hunter


One comment

  1. Pingback: Too Much or Too Little | WATER CHATTER

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