Members of the Watford Naturist Swimming Club celebrated its 40th anniversary on Friday evening.

The club was founded in 1968 by the then five naturist clubs in the area (Diogenes, Fiveacres, Gardenia, Spielplatz, and Sun-Folk) to provide indoor naturist facilities.

Its members have made weekly use of the borough council’s Central Baths ever since, holding both competitive and social events.

After a short exile to the Bill Everett Centre the club’s more than 140 members are now making use of the refurbished Central pool, where an anniversary swim was held on Friday evening.

Club Treasurer Allan Kidney, 67, spoke of the enduring appeal of naturism and sought to quell many “unfortunate” misconceptions about it.

He said: “It is important what people realise that naturism has absolutely nothing to do with sex and there is nothing wrong with being naked – especially when swimming.

“A lot of naturists talk about freedom but others just enjoy the feeling of not wearing clothes – especially in the water.

“We really are just like any adult social club. Yes people have formed relationships in the past but that is no different from a tennis club or any other club.”

Mr Kidney, a father and grandfather, was introduced to naturism by his parents in 1989.

Although many members of the public remain sceptical of his way of life Mr Kidney said attitudes were softening.

He added: “More and more people are coming around the idea of it these days. It’s a lot more acceptable than it used to be.

“We have a very diverse membership ranging from babies aged 18 months to adults aged in their 80s.

“It’s hard to predict where we will go in the future but I hope we can keep going for another 40 years.”

Anyone interested in joining the club should ring 0845 347 9319