A PSYCHEDELIC icon of the swinging sixties that has its roots firmly planted in the New Forest is celebrating 50 years.

A blob light at the bar of the Queen’s Head in Burley was the inspiration behind Edward Craven Walker’s 1963 invention – the Lava Lamp.

Mr Craven Walker was so captivated by the light, which cast strange shadows around the room, that he created his own from liquid and wax.

In September 1963, Mr Craven Walker set up a company, now known as Mathmos, to research, develop and market his invention. The Lava Lamp was born.

A man from Selfridges immediately ordered three dozen and within months the psychedelic lamps were to be found in the living room of every young hippy in the country and eventually around the world.

The lamps earned Mr Craven Walker a fortune, much of which he used to develop the Bournemouth and District Outdoor Club, a camp for naturists based at Matchams near Ringwood.

The club was soon credited with setting new standards for British naturist resorts.

In the late 1950s he began making a series of films designed to promote naturism, including Eves on Skis (1958) and Travelling Light (1960).

Cressida Granger has been managing director at Mathmos since 1989. She started out selling second hand lava lamps on a London market stall.

She was set a challenge by Mr Craven-Walker who said that if she could make the company profitable in one year she would receive the main share of the business. So she did.

Lava lamps enjoyed a spectacular revival during the 1990s and by the end of the decade Mathmos was manufacturing 12,000 lamps a month.

Mr Craven Walker died at the age of 82 on August 15, 2000. He married four times and had a son and two daughters from his first marriage and a son from his third.

Mathmos – named after the lava-like substance which features in the cult film Barbarella – is celebrating 50 years with the installation of a gigantic 200-litre lamp at London's Royal Festival Hall.