The building rests along the Kallang River as the last remaining industrial building from the pre-independence era in the area.
The low-rise two-storey rectangular building was designed by K.K. Tan, who also designed the conserved Change Alley Aerial Plaza. Its design was inspired by the Art-Deco style, which was popular in the 1950s.
The site’s only occupants were the National Aerated Water Company (NAWC), formed as a partnership between Mr Yap Shing Nin, Mr Cheng Sze Boo, and Mr Tan Kah Woo in 1929 with a capital of $1 million. The soft drink manufacturing company expanded from producing its own soft drink products to include foreign franchises such as Sinalco, Royal Crown Cola, and the still popular Kickapoo Joy Juice.
In 1952, the company decided that a new factory was needed to cope with the franchise obtained for the Sinalco brand of soft drinks, and the site at 1177 Serangoon Road was selected. The site and facility cost $350,000, while the machinery bought from Britain ran up to $150,000.
After its completion in 1954, the NAWC moved into the factory and opened in October to mark the company’s 25th anniversary. The new factory could produce 48,000 bottles in a day, twice of what the original Hamilton Road factory could. A $100,000 drink filling machine had to be purchased in 1958 to cope with the increasing demand.
Throughout the 1960s, this facility serviced Singapore and Johor’s demand, whilst other factories in Malaysia serviced the rest of Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.
However, after the 1970s, sales began to decline. Initially, this was due to the rising costs of fuel and raw materials. In the 1980s, the decline continued due to government measures to reduce excessive consumption of soft drinks and its associated health issues.
Following the NAWC’s production of a drink called Kick for a third party, Monarch Beverage Company, the licence owners of the Kickapoo Joy Juice brand, terminated ties with the NAWC. The NAWC continued manufacturing Kick, which led to Monarch Beverage’s legal claim of trademark infringement and breach of contract in 1999. The claim was upheld by the Singapore High Court and Court of Appeal. The NAWC eventually ceased production altogether, and the factory at 1177 Serangoon Road closed.
In 2016, the company was sold to Malaysia-listed developer, Selangor Dredging for $47 million. Recognised for its role as a landmark in the area, the social memories it holds for the community and NAWC’s heritage value, Selangor Dredging was supportive of the conservation effort to gazette the two-storey L-shaped main building by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2017. The building will be integrated into a new residential development project ─ Jui Residences Condo.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of August 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.