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AFA Minerva EMI, Govan, Glasgow, 2010

“AFA Minerva EMI” burglar alarm, Glasgow • Could this be the shallower “Mk 2” metal drum, ie lighter red and fitted flush with the wall? It was found on the magnificent superannuated shipbuilding HQ at Govan, and matches beautifully those huge red Scottish sandstone building blocks (which always make English bricks look so weedy). • Spotted: Govan Road, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G51, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow South West

AFA Minerva EMI

AFA Minerva EMI

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25 replies »

  1. ….on removing the lids….

    The AFA “drum” box – you’d turn it round so the logo was upside down. (The bell should ring). With the hole/indentation being on the top you should be able to access an allen bolt at an angle, which releases the lid. Inside the box is a small chain with a clip; fixed to the back plate, which clips on to the lid to hold it while you work on the box.

    The newer (shallower) ones had a screw either in the centre, or at the bottom (see pic), this would hold in the antitamper. Straight forward.

    The plastic ones, had a screw in the bottom (underneath) which you undid, and released the anti-tamper. The box lid would then 1/4turn anti clockwise, and should then lift off. Again there was usually a clip inside to hold the llid.

    Hope this helps!!!

  2. That’s the shallow AFA box- I think these began to come in during the mid 1970s. You don’t see that many about.
    There is are also slightly pinker versions about too- with a screw in the centre, and where the front cover actually fits flush to the wall.

    They were generally fitted as AFA devoloped newer electronic systems; alongside the older Gtype – which of course used the big drum boxes.

    This box design was revived during the 1990s; though using a double skin lid, and silver paint job for their high security installations- most Natwest Banks had them on.

    The plastic boxes (badged AFA-Minerva) seem to come in during the late very early 1980s- with the new electronic panels (System 9000 etc)
    Those that didn’t need cumbersome batteries etc.

    Any chance on anyone getting inside the building and following the wires to see what it’s hooked up to??!!!

    • I think that building was in use right up until the late 90s maybe even early 2000s, as I’m sure it’s got a plastic bellbox (or two?) too, so suspect everything other than the AFA bell was swept away long ago…

  3. I found a very large Chubb high security bell box tucked away in the corner of an ATM room a couple of weeks ago. As you described it had an inner and outer cover and 7″ bell inside. It was the heaviest bell box i have ever come across. Clearly the Chubb engineer that took it down many moon’s ago didn’t want it cluttering up the boot of his car and left it on site.
    I was lead to believe by an ex AFA engineer that the rawl bolt hook fitted next to the bell box was actually there to tie the engineers ladder to whilst working at height. Sounds crazy to me. After all you would have to climb the ladder in the first place to install the bolt.

    • You are right about the Chubb bells. I used to be thin (now fat), even as a fit 16 year old Apprentice I could hardly carry those bells up a ladder. Back in the day we used to wire the Delta Bell on banks in 4 core pyro. RE: AFA rawl bolt hook, you could be correct about the securing of the ladder, although H&S wasn’t what it is today. I remember being hung out of a second floor window with 4 core cable tied around my middle and ankles by my engineer (I was an apprentice) so that I could fit a Chubb Bell on the old Dixons head office in High Street Edgware.

  4. Its amazing how many silver ones you still see around. Thorn used to be one of the largest suppliers to the Banking sector. I tried to take down a red AFA Minerva dummy bell once but i just couldn’t get the lid off. After speaking to an ex AFA engineer there was a certain way of doing it apparently. The bell posted above is a later version and it is much easier to get the lid off.
    Great web site keep up the good work.

    • As you correctly state, the silver AFA bells were used on banks. The old ones looked like they had a hinged cover. On later ones you would always see a rawl bolt hook in the wall, I guess to hold the cover whilst the engineer was working on them. I think the silver ones were double skin high security, never seen inside one. When I worked for Chubb Alarms, 235 years ago, we used to fit huge Delta Bells, these were triangle. These were double skin with electrically isolated inner and outer cover. As well as Banks we used to fit those on the old Victoria wine shops.

  5. Hi Andy you could well be right. There were many different versions over the years. The last one i took down was painted silver and was fitted to an old TSB branch that had been closed for years. After unscrewing the lid screw and removing the cover there was a circuit board with 2 Besson Bandits connected to it and a small 7Amp battery. It also had a round clear plastic window just above the lid screw to allow the strobe to be visible. On the strobe window was the Thorn logo that looked like a thorn.

    • Gentlemen, I will be posting what sounds like the very item described here in a few days, ie silver drum with small window…

    • They did indeed use that drum bell box, huge thing seen on loads of domestics around the area as they weren’t an expensive installation company. They now use a red round CQR multibox, makes it look like an ultra modern version.
      The old chubb metal things with the metal double skin were held at different potentials so that any drilling of the box would make the circuit between the cover and the inner skin thus causing a tamper.

      • Was there drum bell box an actual AFA bell? I would be surprised if AFA sold there bells to anyone else to use. RE Chubb Bells, correct. If you drilled the outer cover and the drill touched the inner cover the covers would short and create an alarm condition…why bother…just unscrew the bolt. The net result would be the same. How I laugh…all these great metal bell boxes and today….we fit Plastic (Polycarbonate)

        • If only I had a picture of a hall and Rhodes… Only thing I can say is do as I’ve done and go on google streetview in Huddersfield town centre and their are loads of their boxes and on housing estates. Massive things like the early round AFA’s, but look quite recent.

        • OK a bit late to the party here.
          The AFA kit was either fitted and sold outright (in my experience, rare), or fitted and leased to the customer.
          Many of the installations were leased to the customers. Even during my days with Thorn during the 1990s; some 30 years after installation – old kit was still on a Lease agreement.

          In fact, all of the Rolls-Royce installations (now non existant) on their Derby / Mounsorrell / Hucknall sites – which protected the payroll banks/offices (from the days when you actually collected your wages in an envelope from a window).
          These AFA installations- many fitted between 1963-66 period were still going stong, working fine – and still on a Lease type agreement.

          So techincally, Thorn still owned the equipment (hence why they weren’t keen on upgrading kit, as it would cost).

          When these Payroll offices were closed down- all between 1993 and 1998 – I had the sad job of removing most of these installations which were works of art in there own right.
          The equipment had to be decommissioned and returned to our branch office; who would return it to head office – as they were assets that needed to be disposed of.

          Luckily for me, I managed to save a single Zone G Type, 2 Red Drum boxes, and an Internal Blue AFA drum- in perfect condition and install it on my workshop. (Still works!)
          Though now has had to be modified to run via a PSU, as the flag batteries are too expensive.

          AFAs would not sell to another party, pretty much the same as Thorn.
          Even in the 90s, Thorn wouldn’t dish out information on the old AFA equipment. It was a sackable offence.

  6. Good morning. I’m lead to believe, but I have never seen it, that these bells actually had a square steel box beneath the cover which housed the bell and circuit board, with the round cover fitting over the square box. Can anyone shed any light on this?

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