Iconic lamps that just scream of nostal­gia and psy­che­delic times

Chiltern Open Air Mu­seum


early 60s and 70s and were a must-have item on a Christ­mas list!

Legend has it that this iconic lamp was made popular by Ed­ward Craven Walker, a Bri­tish ac­coun­tant, who saw a hand-made ver­sion cre­ated from a cock­tail shaker and old tins in a tra­di­tional coun­try pub in 1940s. He spent the next few years try­ing to cre­ate a glass ver­sion with his newly formed company, the Crest­worth Company, in Dorset.

The Astro Lites, as they were first called, were not ini­tially a suc­cess when they came onto the mar­ket in the 1960s, but even­tu­ally be­came ex­tremely popular, es­pe­cially in the Amer­i­can mar­ket.

So how does the magic of this mes­meris­ing lamp work? Lava lamps have a glass ves­sel, a spe­cially com­pounded wax, trans­par­ent or translu­cent liq­uid and a 25-45 watt bulb.

The lava lamp op­er­ates by heat­ing up the wax via the bulb which changes its den­sity. The wax that rises to the top of the glass ves­sel then cools, chang­ing its den­sity again and so the wax falls back down to the bot­tom of the glass ves­sel. This re­sults in a con­tin­u­ous cy­cle of ris­ing and fall­ing wax.

And when you con­sider that cur­rently over 400,000 are sold each year, it’s clear that there is still a size­able mar­ket for them.

Arte­fact team vol­un­teer, Aileen Mc­Sloy, from Ger­rards Cross has do­nated her psy­che­delic lamp for our new 1970s bed­room recre­ation in Had­den­ham Croft Cot­tage due to open in 2015,(see above left).


Chal­font St Giles www.coam.org.uk 01494 871117

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