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MyQueenstown Kay Poh Club #2 - Where is the Source of Singapore River?

By my queenstown on Monday, October 4, 2010 with 2 comments

It's time to kaypoh about every burning question and doubts about our beloved Queenstown home! This week, our legs take us to the confluence of the Alexandra Canal. As we know, the Alexandra Canal is located at the upstream of the Singapore River, passing through Tanglin and Kim Seng districts. Within the next two years, the canal will be expanded and reinvigorated with water sports and recreational boardwalks at Dawson district. This begs the question where is the source of the river within Queenstown? Therefore, MyQueenstown Team decided to explore on one of the canalised tributary of the Singapore River today!

The Confluence of the Singapore River at Alexandra Canal

Before MyQueenstown Team gets on a kamikaze mode and venture into nowhere, let us invite Queenstown residents to tell us their opinions on where the canal will lead us to!

Mr Tiong

Mr Tiong, a resident in Queenstown, explained that the canal will take us back to the Tanglin district (Ridout estate) and further west into Buona Vista. He is unsure if the canal actually flows to Kim Seng and Singapore River. (Yes, it does! Residents can try walking along the park connector and you will end up at the Singapore River!)

Covered canal at Stirling Road

After obtaining invaluable suggestions from the residents, we followed the direction of the canal and reached Stirling Road. Like the stretch of the canal at Margaret Drive, this part of Alexandra Canal was also covered. We understood from a number of residents that the canal was recently covered at 2007 because of numerous complaints about the waterways bursting over its capacity and flooding the neighbouring settlements. Moreover, as the canal leads directly to the open sea (before the construction of Marina Barrage), snakes and other poisonous creatures were spotted. There were several sightings on how small little kids were nearly "gobbled" by these reptiles.

Huge Monsoon Drains at Stirling Road

The canal split into two huge monsoon drains at Stirling Road. One of them leads to the Mei Ling and Mei Chin districts, which was built on top of a small hill. The other monsoon drain, as shown above, flows pass the Queens' Close district. Therefore, as we tracked along the first monsoon drain, it took us to the "hilltop" houses at Mei Ling street. Hence, it is clear that one of the sources came from Mei Ling.

Steep slopes along Mei Ling Street

The other monsoon drain was deeper and wider. The larger capacity of the drain suggests that it is carrying a bigger load and therefore, it is much longer. The monsoon drain cuts between Mei Chin Road and Queens' Close estate. MyQueenstown Team spotted several canalised streams which connect those elevated platforms from the two districts into the monsoon drain. As Queens' Close district is built on top of another elevated platform, it is likely that Queens' Close could be another source of the Singapore River.

The long and wide monsoon drain cuts between Mei Chin and Queens' Close

Canalised Streams which connect the elevated Mei Chin district to the monsoon drain

Soon, the canal (or monsoon drain) was once again covered as it approached Queensway. MyQueenstown Team crossed the traffic lights at the junction of Mei Chin Road and Queensway and continued this mysterious trail to uncover the source of the Singapore River. The canal also flows past the old Queens' Crescent district, running parallel to the KTM tracks on the elevated platform next to it.

The canal at the former Queens' Crescent district

Somewhere near Masjid Hang Jebat, once again, there were streams connecting several higher, elevated grass fields to the canal. We followed these streams and found ourselves at the Wessex estate, where the Bohemian and Victoria styled colonial bungalows are located. Hence, we conclude that one of the main sources of the Singapore River came from Portsdown! 

The Canal at Masjid Hang Jebat

Streams connecting the elevated fields to the Canal

The replies and answers from Public Utilities Board and the National Library are inconclusive in indicating the actual source of the river. Both the statutory boards mention that there are several sources of the river and old sources such as Fort Canning, Mount Stamford and the Western Hills at Lim Chu Kang are sources of the river. However, the expansion of the canal system in Ulu Pandan and Alexandra has brought in a number of upstreams into the river. 

Pressure! High Pressure Gas Pipeline!

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Category: Kay Poh Club



Pat said...
December 12, 2010 at 2:05 PM

In the old street directories (1970, 1975, 1978 editions), the uncovered Alexandra Canal extended all the way upstream to the Commonwealth Avenue-Queensway junction-cum-underpass (previously a traffic circus called Queen's Circus).

In these old maps, the canal continued going upstream from the spot near Queenstown MRT station/ old cinema(?), right in between the east & west carriageways of Commonwealth Ave, until it reached Queen's Circus. And there, the trail suddenly stopped cold beside Queenstown Secondary School. This canal stretch is now covered with median strip-planting.

Note: The "covered canal at Stirling Road" mentioned in the above post is a few hundred metres away from the covered Alexandra Canal & is probably a lower-stream tributary drain leading into the actual canal that is now lying under the median strip-planting along Commonwealth Ave near the Queensway junction. Geographically, the upper-stream tributaries/ canal source seem to be located further northwest towards the Tanglin Halt/ northern Portsdown/ North Buona Vista area.

Incredibly enough, on the 1978 map, if one follows a straight line from Queen's Circus along Commmonwealth Ave to Commonwealth Ave West, the seemingly-truncated Alexandra Canal actually appears to "meet" Sungei Ulu Pandan that is also seemingly-truncated at the North Buona Vista Rd-Commonwealth Ave West junction. Perhaps these two sister waterways share the same source & catchment nearby.

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