The Lava Lamp: 1960s Psychedelic Icon Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

The Lava Lamp, an iconic symbol of 1960s psychedelia celebrates its 50th anniversary this September. Invented by Edward Craven Walker who was inspired to create the lamp after seeing an oil and water-based ornament on display in a pub, in the New Forest. It was in September 1963, that he set up the now legendary company known as Mathmos, to research and develop his visionary light.

He choose the name Mathmos after a lava like substance which appeared in the cult film Barbarella. The anniversary of this very British invention will be marked next month, with the installation of an enormous 200-litre  Lava lamp on display at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Christine Baehr the designers widow stated; “Edward was very focused, driven, full of ideas,” said Ms Baehr. “When he had an idea he would see it through to the end.” “Because it was so completely new we had to convince people it was worth going with, particularly when it came to selling,” Ms Baehr recalled. “Some people thought it was absolutely dreadful.”

The lamp grew in popularity and in 1968. They made their first TV appearance on the set of Doctor Who, bringing the lamps to an international audience. The Prisoner series, followed and in 1980 Hollywood commissioned bespoke models for the set of Superman III.

Photos courtesy of

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