The King that lost its glory

23 04 2013

Seen from the top of Mount Faber is what once was a glorious King. The former King’s Dock, the pride and glory of the Singapore Harbour Board and the “largest dock east of the Suez” when it was completed a century ago, now lies abandoned, somewhat forgotten and never to be drained again; a cruise ship, the Superstar Virgo, making an assisted turn in front of it, seems to be facing it and mocking it.

IMG_1852

The dock, named King’s Dock (it had previously been referred to as “Admiralty Dock”), at its opening at 4.30 pm on 26 August 1913, by Sir Arthur Young the then Governor of Singapore, was undoubtedly a giant in its time. At its opening, there had only been one graving dock in the world that was larger – the Gladstone Dock in Liverpool. Over the four and the half years that it took to construct the dock, some 92,500 cubic metres of concrete weighing some 203,000 tonnes had been used. Some 21,300 tonnes of cement had also been used – it was said that if all the barrels of cement were laid out in a line, it would have stretched some 51 miles. In the Far East, the closest dock then in size to King’s Dock which measured 272 metres long by 30.5 metres wide and had a maximum flooded depth at its sill of 25.6 metres, was  the Admiralty Dock in Hong Kong. That measured 240 metres by 27 metres and was slightly deeper with 25.8 metres of water at its sill. The dock was indeed an amazing feat of engineering – at its completion, its 101.4 million litres of water could be discharged in just two hours by two huge steam engine driven pumps at a rate of 85,000 litres a minute.

IMG_1854

The dock came under the PSA when it was formed in 1963, following which shiprepair activities at Keppel Harbour came under the control of the then newly formed  Keppel Shipyard in 1968. The yard operated the dock up until 1996 when it moved to Tuas. The areas around the former shipyard have since undergone redevelopment as a luxury waterfront residential community and marina (see also: A sun rise on another strange horizon), and the plot around the former King’s Dock will be one of the last to be redeveloped as Corals at Keppel Bay, a 367 unit waterfront condominium project which will be developed by Keppel Land and designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The project is expected to be launched in May 2013.

King's Dock at the time of its completion in 1913.

King’s Dock at the time of its completion in 1913.

Advertisements