A NATIONALLY-popular haven for naturists has been shut down following the death of its founder and leading light.

Extensive renovation is planned for ageing facilities at the Bournemouth and District Outdoor Club (BDOC) established by pioneering naturist Edward Craven Walker at Matchams, near Ringwood, in the 1960s.

Owners Crestworth Ltd have embarked on a comprehensive review of the site in the wake of Mr Walker's death in August, and a question mark now hangs over its future use.

But the thriving club has been thrown a lifeline, with the use of the four-acre campsite next door.

Millionaire Mr Walker developed the £120,000 centre as a hugely popular holiday resort for people who love to bare all, using proceeds from the worldwide success of his most famous creation, the lava lamp.

As well as attracting around 250 local members, it housed many annual meetings for the Central Council of British Naturism, and the clubhouse was completely rebuilt following a fire in 1994.

But Mr Walker died in August, aged 82, following a long battle with cancer, and his heirs have decided to reassess the centre's future.

"Several buildings on the main site, such as the indoor complex and sheds, need extensive repair work to bring them up to modern standards," explained Linda Ferguson of Crestworth.

"As a result, the centre has been closed while the owners review the situation and work is carried out. It doesn't make sense to have people roaming around a building site.

"But the BDOC has said it is happy to move to the campsite which, though slightly smaller, is still a beautiful spot.

"Members are already planning to put in some temporary facilities of their own, such as a swimming pool, and the club should continue as normal.