Edward Craven Walker

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Edward Craven Walker
Born(1918-07-04)4 July 1918
Died15 August 2000(2000-08-15) (aged 82)
Ringwood, Hampshire, England, UK
Founder of Mathmos
Spouse(s)Marjorie Bevan Jones
Elizabeth Elcoate Gilbert
Christine Baehr

Edward Craven Walker (4 July 1918 – 15 August 2000) was the inventor of the psychedelic Astro lamp, also known as the lava lamp.[1][2][3]

War record[edit]

Craven was a pilot in World War II, flying a DeHavilland Mosquito over Germany to take photographs from an unarmed plane.[1] He met his first wife, Marjorie Bevan Jones, at an air base where she was with the WAAF. Craven continued flying after the war.[citation needed]

The Astro lamp[edit]


After the war Craven developed an idea he saw in a country pub in Dorset, England.[1] 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 laboratory 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.


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.[4] They were a commercial success through the 1960s and early 1970s, and became a symbol 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.[citation needed]

Later years[edit]

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.[4] 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. Craven Walker remained a consultant at Mathmos until his death helping particularly to improve the formula of the lamps.[5]

Astro lamp has been in continuous production for 50 years and has been handmade in Britain since 1963.[5] and is still made today by Mathmos in Poole. The Mathmos lava lamp formula developed initially by Craven Walker in the 1960s and then improved with his help in the 1990s is still used. His lava lamp company Mathmos celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013.[6][7]


Walker was a naturist, setting up his own camp at Matchams,[8] near Ringwood, the camp was known as the Bournemouth and District Outdoor Club (BDOC). The camp closed in 2000 after Craven's death.[9] 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[edit]

Craven combined film with naturism. In the 1950s/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).[1] He lost a lot of his film archive when a tree fell on the garage in which it was stored while he was away at his apartment in Costa Natura, a naturist resort in Málaga, Spain.


Toward the end of the 1990s, Craven battled cancer. He died in Hampshire in 2000, aged 82, and was buried in a small cemetery in the New Forest.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Craven Walker". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 19 August 2000. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  2. ^ Tucker, Abigail (March 2013). "The History of the Lava Lamp". Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  3. ^ Iovine, Julie V. (27 August 2000). "Edward C. Walker, Lava Lamp Designer and a Naturist, Is Dead at 82". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b Rickey, Melanie (27 January 1996). "The material world/Light of our lives". The Independent.
  5. ^ a b Mathmos History, mathmos.com; accessed 8 February 2016.
  6. ^ Kleinman, Zoe (30 August 2013). "Lava lamps: Still bubbling at 50". BBC News. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  7. ^ Baldwin, Roberto (3 September 2013). "Lava Lamp's 50 Years of Gooey Light". WIRED. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Lava Lamps" (PDF). Dorset Magazine. December 2013. p. 23.
  9. ^ "Popular naturist centre is shut down". Dorset Echo. 29 November 2000. Retrieved 2017-11-09.

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