Lava Lamps in the 1960s & 70s

Edward Craven Walker founder of Mathmos

Edward Craven-Walker was the inventor of lava lamps and founder of Mathmos. He launched the first lava lamp, the Astro, in 1963 to instant and enduring popularity. “I think it will always be popular. It’s like the cycle of life. It grows, breaks up, falls down and then starts all over again” E. Craven Walker.

mathmos original lava lamp prototype

The First Lava Lamp

The lava lamp was developed from a design for an egg timer using two liquids spotted in a Dorset pub. Craven Walker spent years developing this into a light for manufacture initially using cocktail and orange squash bottles.

mathmos original lava lamp dr who

60s & 70s British TV

The Astro came to market in 1963 and was an instant hit becoming one of the defining products of the swinging ‘60s appearing in cult TV series ”The Prisoner” and “Dr Who”. In the ‘70s Mathmos lava lamps appear in Are You Being Served, The Sweeney, Carry on Laughing, Abigail’s Party and The Good Life.

mathmos lava lamp inventor edward craven walker astro lava lamp 1963

The Craven Walkers in the 1960s

The Craven Walkers grew the business together during the 60s and 7Os manufacturing and selling their lava lamps world-wide. Edward remained a consultant to Mathmos until his sad death in 2000. Christine still lives near the factory in Dorset and kindly signed our 50th-anniversary limited edition. See here for Christine’s blog on The Early Days of the Astro Lava Lamp.

David Bowie, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney…

Ringo Starr was an owner of an Astro, buying one from a shop in the early 60s. Paul McCartney had lava lamps on his set. David Bowie had an Astro Baby in his recording studio.


The Cast of Hair Visit the Craven Walkers

The most controversial musical of 1968 was the musical Hair, inspired by the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the time. The musical shocked New York and London theatregoers with its depiction of drugs, its sexuality and its nude scene. The cast was happy to accept an invitation from the Craven Walkers to visit them at their home in Dorset.


Great British Eccentric

Edward Craven Walker was a man of many interests. His modes of transport included a helicopter and a fire engine, he always drove a British made Jaguar. He was an underwater filmmaker and a naturist. Owning a naturist camp in Dorset and showing one of his underwater naturist films in Leicester Square.

I think it will always be popular. It’s like the cycle of life. It grows, breaks up, falls down and then starts all over again
Edward Craven Walker 1963 -2000