THE owner of a former Hampshire aquatic centre has spoken out after a second fire in nine months.

Fire crews descended on World of Water, in Greatbridge Road, as a huge fire engulfed the site.

It last had a fire in July 2023 and owner Susan Mercer told the Advertiser that arsonists had struck.

She said: “I was alerted by the fire brigade that my building, that was burnt last year by arsonists, these arsonists had come back and burnt it again. These youths have some sort of cult thing going on with YouTube, they've been videoing themselves doing it. 

“Before that happened, even though there were no entry signs up all over, they have all been ripped down. Every time a fence is put up, it's knocked down and they get in. Because the building is no longer in use, they felt the need to come in and they've been thieving and wrecking anything that they could find and using it as a playground. It's not a very nice thing to happen. 

Hampshire Chronicle:

“Only Wednesday I was here and there was a lad on the roof taking the aerial down, it's unbelievable. The trouble is, it's off the beaten track. They went in there smashing things. I just think it's quite disgusting.”

As fire crews tackled the blaze on Friday evening, they closed Greatbridge Road and encouraged people to keep their windows and doors closed. 

On Saturday morning, a fire service spokesman said: "Our crews have left the scene following a stop message at 08:38, but will be returning to conduct reinspections of the site.

"100 per cent of the building was involved, investigations into the cause of the fire are still ongoing."

@hampshire_chronicle Awful 😭 Fire crews descended on World of Water, in Romsey, last night as a huge fire engulfed the site - the second in nine months. The former aquatic supplies centre shut in 2020. #fire #hampshire #fireengine ♬ original sound - Hampshire Chronicle

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: "We have now re-opened the A3057 near the World of Water site in Romsey, after the earlier fire.

Hampshire Chronicle:

"There will now be a joint investigation with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Police to determine the circumstances, which led up the the event.

"If you have any information please make contact with the police online or via 101, quoting reference 44240164983."

READ MORE: Huge blaze erupts at former garden centre

Passers-by reacted to the events. One, who didn't want to be named, said: “It's unbelievable that it's happened again. Clearly there needs to be some better CCTV to stop this happening.”

Another, who also didn't want to be named, said: “It looks like the fire service acted quickly so it didn't spread. It looks like it has all been put out now.”

The centre has been unused for several years although there are plans for development. A joint venture by Romsey-based EP Projects and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust was approved but stalled as it awaits funding. 

EP Projects and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have been contacted for a comment.