Used tampons, mouldy food and green slime are not what you expect to discover at a family-friendly swimming pool – but that’s exactly what scathing Trip Advisor reviews have been saying about Hemel Hempstead’s Aquasplash.
Could it really be that bad? We decided to check out the final days of the doomed leisure complex and investigate for ourselves.
Anyone who grew up in Dacorum will remember the excitement when the state-of-the-art facilities opened as part of the LeisureWorld complex back in 1995.
But much of the giant building now stands empty, and the doors of the pool and neighbouring ice rink will be closing in the next few weeks. It can’t come too soon, to be honest.
On our arrival, the tired facade revealed itself to be dirty, dilapidated and a shadow of its former self, while pigeon droppings and cigarette ends littered the pavement leading up to the entrance.
We both recall many birthday parties of our youth spent splashing around with delight – let’s be honest, most kids aren’t bothered by a bit of dirt as long as they are having fun. But here we were again as adults, rifling through a dustbin of discarded plastic overshoes before making our way into the changing rooms with trepidation.
The floor was caked in a thick layer of dirt, cubicle and locker doors smeared with something miscellaneous – and not forgetting discarded chewing gum clinging to the crevices, too.
In the pool itself, we were treated to unidentifiable poolside gunk, clumps of human hair and a rogue sweet packet floating in the water during our whistle-stop swim. We didn’t stay long.
But it has to be said that there were still plenty of punters, despite the grime.
As the only facility of its kind for miles around, a complete refurbishment – and a cleaning rota – would restore the water park to something like its former glory.
Manager Kerstin Engren said: “We did have complaints about the cleanliness over the summer, and we endeavoured to do what we could to resolve them.
“We had to take on the cleaning contract ourselves because we had to let our previous contractor go.
“The closure has been looming over us for a couple of years, and it’s only been a matter of time.
“You’ve got to appreciate that we couldn’t make a massive investment when the place was doomed. We’re sad to see it go.”
There are £4 million plans to breathe new life into LeisureWorld, but they don’t include a pool. Aquasplash closes its doors for good on November 3 – the end of an era, or good riddance?