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“Capstan”, Kensington: not the evil cigarettes

“Capstan” burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Because of their clinical 1970s-style design and a name recalling the fiendish hand-blackening Capstan Navy Cut Full Strength cigarettes still common in that era, I’ve always assumed these were quite old. The shield-shaped box also looks like the product of an earlier, more rigorous era; it’s a design classic, but not widely used nowadays except by Banham. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that this firm is very much still in existence, and indeed has its HQ not far from my home. Unlike all the other outfits sporting “Modernist” designs, Capstan seems not (yet) to have been involved in a web of global takeovers; but it’s still a long-established firm, founded in 1978, which may be when the design dates from too. Its restrained colour blocks are reminiscent of Swiss graphics, the sort of livery found on the pill packets Damien Hirst loves to use. He loves using cigarettes too, bringing me neatly back to Capstan Navy Cut – which, befitting their nautical branding, were notorious as the most tar-laden tabs on the market. These unfiltered beauties were once advertised to harassed mums thus: “When the kids are getting out of hand and driving you insane – Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Let Capstan take the strain!” • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington

4 replies »

  1. Securisys and complete are very recent takeovers and complete are essex based at the moment so you may have to travel a bit to see one. Securisys seems very small and iv only spotted 2 boxes, one is on fulham broadway they are a Texecom odyssey 3 (hexagon style) in army green with just a basic italic text saying securisys. The complete ones are a little bit more wacky although are being changed to the shield type.
    Good luck with your research, im finding it very interesting as an engineer who installs, fixes and removes these boxs. feel free to email me if you need any help.

    • Thanks, green alarms are a rarity so the army green Securisys sounds good. And my lack of a Complete alarm has made me realise that Essex is very under-represented in my collection… I shall go on a hunt when I get time.

  2. Capstan has been taken over many years ago by Banham hence the same shape bell box manufactured for Banham only. Capstan is kept running under its own name. Same goes for Aegis Alarms, Tara Alarms, Securisys and most recently Complete security. Banham is now called Banham Group.

    • Thanks, that’s very interesting. I haven’t got round to researching Banham’s corporate history yet, so didn’t know who they’d taken over. That explains why I only see the excellent shield-shaped bell boxes bearing the names Banham, Tara, Aegis and Capstan (and all well-designed, too). I haven’t come across a Securisys or Complete shield yet though, so I’ll keep my eyes open for them.

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