A swingers club has closed its doors after four years of serving the county.

Eager attendees, first timers and veterans came from far and wide to celebrate the final members’ event at Mingles on New Year’s Eve.

Owners and married couple Rebecca Freeman and Jason Woolf told friends on social media they had exceeded the length of time they originally planned for Mingles to stay open in London Road in Lexden, Colchester, and were “going out with a bang”.

The duo wrote: “We only planned for Mingles to be open for about three years, but seeing the fun and friendships it brought to so many people, it inspired us to keep it running for almost four-and-a-half years.

“We have had a lot of fun running the club - a few tears, four weddings and fortunately, no funerals.

“We would love to thank all of you for making Mingles the fun and friendly place it has been.

“Needless to say there are some very special people over the years who shall remain nameless, but they know who they are, and we thank them for all their help, support and friendships both in and out of the club.”

When Mingles opened in 2014 as a private members’ club it split opinion in Essex.

Support came from people who felt the discreet club would raise the profile of Lexden and add variety to the town.

However, the couple has had to contend with judgements about their chosen lifestyle as well as protest from Lexden resident Andy Hamilton, who continues to criticise the morality of swingers' clubs.

On Facebook, the Mingles owners called Mr Hamilton, who claimed he had suffered verbal and physical abuse, a “parochial geriatric”.

They added: “...whose fascination with photographing our bin bags and harassing people minding their own business actually compelled many locals to join the club.”

Mr Hamilton, who protested outside the club on a regular basis, told the Gazette he objected to a commercial business promoting adultery and found it “intolerable on moral grounds”.

Despite news of Mingles closure, he said he was not finished with the venue which is not yet for sale.

He said: “I will continue attending outside the sordid Lexden sex club Friday and Saturday evenings and outside the town hall at council meetings for some time.

“I have to be sure Mr Woolf has really gone and must admit it gives me pleasure to continue expressing my view of this morally deficient council.

“I would say about 10 per cent of the public agree with my objections.

“Quite a few cars toot in support as they pass.

“Locally about 30 per cent support me because they are concerned about their house prices.

“I did stop other people from joining the protest because of the verbal abuse and physical assaults.”