Edward C. Walker; Nudist Invented Lava Lamp

From Associated Press

Edward Craven Walker, the inventor of the lava lamp and an enthusiastic nudist who made movies promoting life in the buff, has died at age 82.

His family said Walker died of cancer Tuesday in London.

Walker got the idea for the lava lamp from seeing a “blob light"--a mix of oil and water heated by a lightbulb at the bottom. He had the idea that the lamp would be more interesting if the oil was thick enough to form sculptural shapes, and he spent a decade perfecting the design for what he called the Astro Lamp.

The product was launched in 1963, just ahead of the craze for all things psychedelic, and Walker’s factory in Poole in southern England was soon busy meeting the demand.


“If you buy my lamp, you won’t need drugs,” Walker once said.

The lava lamp faded in the 1980s, and in the following decade Walker sold his rights to Cressida Granger. Her firm, Mathmos, has been one of Britain’s fastest-growing companies, with the lava lamp a key product.

Walker believed that his lamp had staying power.

“I think it will always be popular,” he once said. “It’s like the cycle of life. It grows, breaks up, falls down, and then starts all over again.”

Born in Singapore, Walker flew Mosquito aircraft on reconnaissance missions for the Royal Air Force during World War II.

His interest in nudism began with a visit to the Isle du Levant off France, and in the 1950s he promoted the cause with films. “Eves on Skis” appeared in 1958, and “Traveling Light,” described as an underwater ballet filmed off Corsica, followed in 1960.

The success of the latter film gave Walker the resources to buy a club at Bournemouth on the south coast of England, which he turned into a nudist resort. He once caused a stir there by trying to ban overweight nudists.

“We are against all these fat fogies; it’s not what naturism should be about,” said Walker, who maintained a trim figure into his old age.

He is survived by his fourth wife, Suzanna, a son and two daughters from his first marriage, and a son from his third marriage. Funeral arrangements were not announced.