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Born on this day
Edward Craven Walker
Edward Craven Walker was the inventor of the psychedelic Astro Lamp.
27th week in year
4 July 2019

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Edward Craven Walker4.7.1918

Wikipedia (27 Jun 2013, 14:40)

Edward Craven Walker (4 July 1918 – 15 August 2000) was the inventor of the psychedelic Astro Lamp, known as the Lava Lamp in 1963.

War Record

Craven was as a pilot in World War II, flying a DeHavilland Mosquito over Germany to take photographs from an unarmed plane. He met his first wife, Marjorie Bevan Jones, at an air base where she was with the WAAF. Craven continued flying after the war.

Genesis of Astro Lamp

After the war Craven developed an idea he saw in a country pub in Dorset, England. The pub had a contraption made by a regular, Alfred Dunnett, who had since departed, a one-off device which used two immiscible fluids as an egg timer. While it was rudimentary, Craven saw potential and set about perfecting it and turning into a lamp. He set up a lab in a small shed where he mixed ingredients in bottles of different shapes and sizes. He discovered one of the best containers was a Tree Top Orange Squash bottle and its shape defined the Astro Baby Lamp or Astro Mini as it was then called.

The Astro Lamp Industry

Craven with his wife Christine set up a company to produce the lamps, naming it Crestworth. Operating from small buildings on an industrial estate in Poole, Dorset, Crestworth has supplied the world with lamps since 1963, changing its name to Mathmos in 1992. They were a big commercial success through the 1960s and early 1970s and became a symbolic of psychedelia. Craven said, "If you buy my lamp, you won't need drugs... I think it will always be popular. It is like the cycle of life. It grows, breaks up, falls down and then starts all over again".

In the late 1970s fashions moved on and lava lamps fell out of fashion. The Walkers kept the company going throughout the 1980s but in a much smaller way.

Later Years

In the early 1990s, a young couple began manufacturing and selling them successfully. Cressida Granger and David Mulley approached Craven and took over running the company and renamed it Mathmos in 1992. Initially they were in partnership with Edward and Christine Craven Walker and the company was called Crestworth Trading Ltd. Over a period of years they bought out the Walkers bit by bit. They had the rights to produce Astro Lamps and continued to manufacture in the same location, using almost the same staff, machinery and even some of the 1960s components. Edward Craven Walker remained a consultant at Mathmos until his death helping particularly to improve the formula of the lamps.


Walker was a naturist, setting up his own camp at Matchams in Hampshire. It became one of the largest in the United Kingdom. Craven's passion created unrest in his life and was a contributory reason for his divorce from Marjorie, with whom he had 3 children. Craven married 4 times. Craven attempted to ban obese individuals from his naturist resort, arguing that obesity defied ideals based on a healthy spiritual and physical life.

Film Work

Craven combined film with naturism. In the 50s and 60s nudity in film was taboo but he evaded censors by not showing pubic hair. As a result he became a pioneer in this genre. Under the pseudonym Michael Keatering, Craven directed the naturist film Travelling Light (1959). This was the first naturist film to receive public release in the UK. Described as an underwater ballet, it was shot off Corsica and released in 1960. He later produced Sunswept (1961) and Eves on Skis (1963).


Toward the end of the 1990s, Craven battled with cancer. He died at Matchams Dorset and was buried in a small cemetery in the New Forest. He was 82.

(photo source

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