Alkaff Lake Gardens

The Alkaff Lake Gardens was located off MacPherson Road, at what is now the Sennett Estate and Cedar Girls’ Secondary School.1 The Japanese-styled garden was developed by Syed Shaik Alkaff of the Alkaff family.2

The Alkaff family
The Alkaffs were a prominent Arab family of merchants and property developers.3 They owned holiday bungalows in Pasir Panjang and Pender Road, as well as the famous Hotel de L’Europe, and The Arcade at Raffles Place.4

The Alkaffs are most remembered for their lavish home, Alkaff Mansion, and the Masjid Alkaff Mosque.5

Prewar years
The Alkaff Lake Gardens was the first Japanese garden built in Singapore.  A Japanese landscape expert was called in by the Alkaff family to develop the garden, which was opened to the public in 1929.6

The garden became a place of attraction for both visitors and residents.7 It had a lake for rowing boats, neatly landscaped paths, and picnic tables under shady trees.8 There were also tea houses that could be rented by anyone who visited the park.9

World War II
The garden was requisitioned by the British military during World War II, following which the Singapore Volunteer Field Ambulance Corps used it as their headquarters. A huge Red Cross sign was laid on the grass and recognised by the Japanese air force who did not bomb the site. The garden, however, was bombed and shelled after the corps moved out.10

The garden remained closed to the public during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45). An armed guard was posted outside of the garden, and it was unclear what the site was used for during the period.11

Postwar years
After the war, the Alkaffs decided to get back to their core business of trading, and thus sold away much of their property.12

In 1949, Alkaff Lake Gardens was bought over by the Sennett Realty Company for $2 million to develop the Sennett Estate. Vestiges of the gardens had remained for some years after the housing project was completed. Then in 1964, the lake was filled and artificial hills levelled.13

The Willow Avenue Secondary School was constructed on the main site of the garden, which is currently occupied by Cedar Girls’ Secondary School.14

Gary Maurice Dwor-Frecaut

1. Ray K. Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 199 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage: Through Places of Historical Interest (Singapore: Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, 2010), 19. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
2. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage, 19.
3. G. Uma Devi, et al., Singapore’s 100 Historic Places (Singapore: Archipelago Press; National Heritage Board, 2002), 118. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
4. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage, 19.
5. Devi, et al., Singapore’s 100 Historic Places, 118.
6. Devi, et al., Singapore’s 100 Historic Places, 118; Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 199.
7. Roy Ferroa, “S’pore’s Forgotten Park,” Singapore Free Press, 20 April 1948, 2(From NewspaperSG)
8. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 199; Devi, et al., Singapore’s 100 Historic Places, 118.
9. Ferroa, “S’pore’s Forgotten Park.” 
10. Ferroa, “S’pore’s Forgotten Park.”
11. Ferroa, “S’pore’s Forgotten Park.” 
12. Devi, et al., Singapore’s 100 Historic Places, 118; Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 199.
13. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 199.
14. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 199.

The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Historic sites--Singapore
Streets and Places