A sailing club has announced with "great sadness" that it is leaving its home of more than 80 years.

Aldenham Sailing Club has confirmed it is terminating its lease with the private owners of Aldenham Reservoir.

Sailors have been away from the water since January after reservoir owners Liberty Lake Leisure Ltd reduced the amount of water in the reservoir by one metre.

The club's boats were used by members of all ages, as well as schools, but now they will have to find a new home.

The reduction in water meant it was too dangerous to launch boats into the water.

Watford Observer:

Some of the club's boats

Club commodore Bryan Forbes has explained why the decision has been made now to leave.

He said: "I am sad about the whole situation. I did not want it as my legacy to be the last commodore.

"But when Mahesh Gosrani, of Liberty, stated in the press that the drop in water level of one metre would stay and might even be further reduced, we had no choice.

"Launching and recovery became too risky and even if we had adapted the structures, we had no confidence that one day the water would not drop further and so we began to look elsewhere."

Liberty began draining the reservoir in January based on an inspection undertaken by its inspector on the dam wall at the reservoir.

Liberty, as owners, have a duty to maintain the dam wall, which is costly - and decided to reduce the level of water to ease pressure on the wall.

Watford Observer:

The water used to be right up against the dam wall (pictured left a few weeks ago)

This is despite a Freedom of Information request revealing the inspector had stated the 225-year-old dam is in a "satisfactory condition" and although the engineer said there are "effective means to lower the reservoir water level", there were no recommendations in the report that immediate action was required.

The decision to drain the reservoir came after Hertsmere Borough Council told Liberty its plans for 50 holiday pods on the eastern bank of the reservoir would unlikely be approved - Liberty said its holiday pod plans would have helped generate income to maintain upkeep of the dam.

Liberty's decision to withdraw its plans for pods was good news for the sailing club because it would have lost land to store its boats and made entering the water more tricky.

Anyone visiting the reservoir who has not been for some time will notice how much has changed, with a slurry and beach forming around the edge of the reservoir where water used to lie.

Watford Observer:

The reservoir pictured a few weeks ago. Previously this area was covered in water

Watford Observer:

The 100-plus member-strong sailing club, which has called the reservoir home since 1937, have been given until December 24 this year to clear the site of all of its boats and equipment.

The club, which has paid £7,800 annually to Liberty for use of the reservoir, says members will now be looking for other clubs to join to continue their sailing.

Liberty co-director Mahesh Gosrani said: "We are extremely saddened by the sailing club's decision to cease its operations at Aldenham Reservoir.

"They formed an integral part of the landscape and our entire family have participated in the sailing on open days.

"We often said to them that we want to celebrate a century of sailing at the reservoir."

Liberty say they and Hertfordshire County Council were joint landlords for the sailing club.