There are a number of different Lava Lamps or 'Astro Lamps" to give them their original name, produced by the Mathmos Company today, which come in all shapes and sizes. There are also a number of Companys which also produce Lava Lamps which are perfectly adequate, but it is Mathmos which produces the original Lava Lamp, which originally had copper tops and bottoms, which is the best.
It was Edward Craven-Walker, pictured on the left, who invented the Lava Lamp around 1963 under the name "Astro Lamp". He sold it at various trade shows until 1966 when he sold the rights to manufacture the product in the
to the company Haggerty. Later the rights to manufacture the lamp in United States as well as other parts of Great Britain Europe were sold to the company Crestworth, which in 1992 changed its name to Mathmos.
But this was never meant to be a history lesson, but to concern ourselves with the iconic 1960's visualisation of the "Astro Lamp" - Lava Lamp if you prefer, to that cult 1960's television series the Prisoner. For in the village the Astro Lamp can be seen in many of its administrative buildings, not to mention cottages such as '6 Private', the home of No.6 which has two Astro Lamps in it. In the bedroom and the landing area between the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.
In the office of No.2 during Arrival there are two tall Astro Lamps, the one situated on top of another. And on many occasions when we visit No.2's inner sanctum of his office, there can be seen upon the large screen the very effect which the Astro, or Lava Lamp creates. But that which is seen on the screen is the image of the containment area somewhere out at sea, the containment area in which the membranic form of the village guardian is contained.
But why exactly is the image of the membranic form of the village guardian, or Lava Lamp effect if you prefer, seen so often on the screen in No.2's office? To describe the form of the village guardian contained thus on the screen, as being malevolent, that it looks as though it would do harm to someone if released, would I feel, not be too far from the truth. And that has proved to be the case on more than one occasion. So is there another reason why there are Lava Lamps placed in various rooms of administration buildings and the cottages of the citizens of the village? Perhaps they too are symbolic of that containment area to be found somewhere out at sea, the segment of village guardian being a warning to the citizens in is malevolent state. It cannot get out, unless of course the lava Lamp is smashed, but merely serves as a warning to all citizens of the village, of the thing which they might one day be faced with!
Or perhaps there is a more simple reason, that to watch the lava Lamp effect is soothing, relaxing, relieving stress, which could explain why we see the lava Lamp effect so much on the wall screen in No.2's office!
It was Mr. Edward Craven-Walker who developed an idea he had had in a country public house. The public house had on display, a contraption which fascinated Craven-Walker and he vowed to expand upon it.
The contraption had been made by one of the pubs regulars who had since departed and was a one-off homemade device consisting of an egg-timer and a light bulb. While the device itself was fairly rudimentary, Craven-Walker saw it's potential and set about perfecting it.
He set up a laboratory in a small shed where he mixed together various ingredients in bottles of various shapes and sizes, looking for the ideal solution. He discovered the best container for the job was a Lucozade bottle and it is that shape that has defined the shape of the "Astro” or Lava Lamp.
The lamps were a massive success through the 1960's, becoming symbolic of psychedelia. Craven-Walker said that it mesmerizing motions "If you buy my lamp, you won't need drugs. I think it always will be popular. It's like the cycle of life. It grows, it breaks up, falls down and starts all over again." Which could be one description of the Prisoner. No wonder it fits in so well with the vicious circle that is the Prisoner!
I'll be seeing you