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1970s disco

Bastion, Lambeth: full stop

Bastion Security Systems "Bastion Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • I love this Bastion logo – it was clearly designed specifically to fit on a Eurobell, and even has a full stop at the end. And for once the clear cap doesn't have a logo or circuit board beneath it. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Bastion, Lambeth: full stop

Crime Stop, Birmingham: avatar

Crime Stop Protected "Crime Stop Protected" burglar alarm, Birmingham • Used as my avatar yet I've never previously published this round version. So here it is, in all its shadowy intruder-like glory. • Spotted: Meriden Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
Crime Stop, Birmingham: avatar

Interceptor, Dorking: groovy

Interceptor Intruder Alarm System "Interceptor Intruder Alarm System" burglar alarm, Dorking • Dunno what the white shark's fin signifies, but it's a triangle (scalene, don't you know), so finally provides an excuse to feature this quintessentially 1970s-looking design. In my fevered imagination, the whizzy graphics conjure up images of the local rich folk buzzing around in groovy Jensen Interceptor cars, though it's probably more about intercepting Johnny Burglar. Have patience, I've been writing about triangles for weeks now, and it's starting to get to me. • Spotted: Town centre, Dorking, Surrey, RH4, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Mole Valley
Interceptor, Dorking: groovy

FSE, Camden: smiley

FSE "FSE" burglar alarm, Camden • I love this. Who knows what it stands for, but it resembles a fat clownish smiley face, using a classic 1970s "go-faster stripes" font Stop, by Aldo Novarese. In fact this sounder was probably designed in the rave-tastic 1990s, when such "go-faster" styles came back into vogue; there's a learned article about it here• Spotted: Gordon Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
FSE, Camden: smiley

Mack Alarms, Camden: subtle

Mack Alarms Limited "Mack Alarms Limited" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I see loads of old Mack Alarms around locally, so it's about time I featured one – notice subtle stripey triangle in background. The 01 phone number suggests it's a pretty old example. • Spotted: Toynbee Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
Mack Alarms, Camden: subtle

Eclipse Alarms, Stratford-upon-Avon: painstaking

Eclipse ElySt StratfordUponAvon nr CV37 6LW 20081_800 "Eclipse Alarms" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • A painstaking but badly cut-out collage job: someone's printed the logo onto a label, then stuck it piece by piece onto this old Eurobell. There's even a sooty black eclipse image at the top, though it looks more like a bulb has fallen off. • Spotted: Ely Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
Eclipse Alarms, Stratford-upon-Avon: painstaking

Eclipse, Derby: strange

Eclipse Alarms "Eclipse Alarms" burglar alarm, Derby • Strange choice of name for a solar-powered alarm! Nice to see a fully-illustrated eclipse, though. • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Derby South
Eclipse, Derby: strange

Ades Burglar Alarm, Bristol: red moons

Ades Burglar Alarm "Ades Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Bristol • I really like this weird old 1970s disco-style logo I found in Bristol, home of one squillion burglar alarm firms. It's probably meant to be soundwaves emanating from a bell, but looks more like a lot of crescent moons surrounding a planet, so I'm including it in the astronomy category too. The colour of the box may be significant: Ades is an unusual surname thought to derive from the Hebrew for "red". • Spotted: Gloucester Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
Ades Burglar Alarm, Bristol: red moons

Radius, Lambeth: chariot wheel

Radius "Radius" burglar alarm, Lambeth • In classical geometry, the radius of a circle or sphere is the length of a line segment from its center to its perimeter. The name comes from the Latin radius, meaning 'ray', but also the spoke of a chariot wheel. And it's also one of the two sub-elbow arm bones, so called because it rotates around the other one, the ulna. Thanks, Wikipedia! • Spotted: Sail Street, Lambeth, London, SE11, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Radius, Lambeth: chariot wheel

Abacus, East Grinstead: depleted

Abacus "Abacus" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Today I move on to maths and computing with the oldest computer of all, an abacus – known to ancient Mesopotamians long before burglar alarm engineers got in on the act. Loving the way the A is actually made out of a (somewhat bead-depleted) abacus on this. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
Abacus, East Grinstead: depleted

ACS, Westminster: scary

ACS "ACS" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Wow, these are impressive all-encircling waveforms, like something from a scary 1950s sci-fi movie. Bring on the theremin music! • Spotted: Duke of York Street, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
ACS, Westminster: scary

Disc Security Systems, Glasgow: real CD

Disc Security Systems "Disc Security Systems" burglar alarm, Glasgow • Scotland seems to sprout even more musical alarms than Norwich. I've already featured Disc, but this is a much better photo. How I love these sounders - I mean, each one has computer-readable lettering and an actual, real CD on it! How cool is that? If each one played a different Scottish musical "legend" - eg the Bay City Rollers, The Proclaimers, The Krankies - that would be the icing on the cake. • Spotted: George Street, Glasgow, G1, Scotland, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
Disc Security Systems, Glasgow: real CD

“Maxpro”, Stroud: extravaganza

Maxpro Security Systems Alarm Stroud "Maxpro Security Systems Alarm Stroud" burglar alarm, Stroud • Now we move from general business excellence to the self-proclaimed pros. In this case a superb 1970s disco extravaganza called Maxpro, which either stands for the maximum amount of professionalism possible, or some geezer called Max. • Spotted: Russell Street, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stroud
“Maxpro”, Stroud: extravaganza

“Status”, Stratford-upon-Avon: Mr Boasty

StatusAlarms Cook'sAlley StratfordUponAvon nr CV37 6PT 20121_800 "Status Alarms Coventry" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • Starting today is the essentially boasty theme of excellence - whether a self-proclaimed quality of the burglar alarm firm, or conferred by the bell box upon the client. In this case it's the latter: with this sounder, you will gain status. I once saw one on a Prince of Wales pub, which is an ideal site. You can also get light bulbs (the old fashioned energy-gulping kind) called Status, which - like a burglar alarm - is either on or off, I guess. • Spotted: Cook's Alley, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
“Status”, Stratford-upon-Avon: Mr Boasty

“Future”, Bath: timely

Future Security Systems "Future Security Systems" burglar alarm, Bath • So endeth two years of burglar alarms. But blub ye not (in the unlikely event that you were), because - amazingly, heroically, certifiably - I have at least another year's-worth to publish, though I won't always be writing "pithy" comments as in the past. And to usher in the new year, 2013's first theme is "Time", which I shall kick off with the, um, futuristic Future. Why? Well, 2013 sounds like a science fiction year, and also there's a big publishing company called Future based in Bath, where I found this sounder. So here's to the future. Cheers! • Spotted: Margaret's Buildings, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath
“Future”, Bath: timely

“So Secure”, Greenwich: handbag-worthy

So Secure "So Secure" burglar alarm, Greenwich • I love this beautiful double S monogram, which is so sophisticatedly retro in its black-and-olive curvyness that it wouldn't look out of place on an Orla Kiely handbag. (That's a compliment, chaps.) However, perhaps not the most legible - it wasn't till I found a version with the website on that I realised the green circle meant it said "SoSecure". Until then I'd always read it as "SSecure", putting it in the rather large "SS" logo category (in the Security Services, rather than Nazi sense). Whereas in fact it kind of says SOS. Very clever. • Spotted: Herbert Road, Greenwich, London, SE18, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich
“So Secure”, Greenwich: handbag-worthy

“Avon Alarms”, Bristol: gorge

"Avon Alarms" burglar alarm, Bristol • There are several River Avons in the UK, because Avon is a derivation of the ancient British word for river: thus River Avon actually means River River. This charmingly discotastic sounder refers to the lovely "Bristol Avon", which runs through Gloucestershire and Wiltshire en route to Bath and Bristol, where it cleaves the mighty Avon Gorge then heads out to sea. Avon Alarms are a familiar sight in the city, which also used to be in the county of Avon, before it got turned into a "unitary authority". • Spotted: Clifton area, Bristol, Avon, BS8, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: the Avon Gorge, Bristol
“Avon Alarms”, Bristol: gorge

“Glo Bell”, Westminster: cheeky

"Glo Bell" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This has no globe at all – just a cheeky pun (well I assume it's meant to read "global", unless it's some kind of glowing bell). I'm rather fond of Glo Bell's cheerful-looking sounders – there's another one here. • Spotted: Eastcastle Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Glo Bell”, Westminster: cheeky

“Aptek”, Hull: fairgroundy

"Aptek" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • You'll have to squint to see this – it's a tiny wire globe top right, with the initials AP in it. Quite an attractive logo actually, if more fairgroundy than burglar-alarmy. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle
“Aptek”, Hull: fairgroundy

Ghost under “3 Star Alarms”, Westminster: tank top

Ghost under "3 Star Alarms" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This anonymous delta ghost could have been anything, so I won't even hazard a guess as to its brand. But 3 Star's logo also conjures up distant days: in the 1970s, my brother had a tank top with exactly the same design on. • Spotted: Eastcastle Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
Ghost under “3 Star Alarms”, Westminster: tank top

Ghost under “3D”, Lambeth: usurped

Ghost under "3D Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This faint ghost-shadow is pentagonal, which means it's either an occult symbol, or the final traces of a Shorrock. As for the usurping brand 3D, its initials are clearly meant to suggest three dimensions, but also have the less marketing-friendly meaning of "third". • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Ghost under “3D”, Lambeth: usurped

“Ace Security”, Islington: 1970s non-disco

"Ace Security" burglar alarm, Islington • A 1970s disco logo for a 1970s non-disco group: Ace, a bunch of hairy be-flared musos notable mainly for the very successful single "How Long", which was top 20 in both the UK and the USA in 1974-5. • Spotted: Aylesbury Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Ace the one-hit-wonder group
“Ace Security”, Islington: 1970s non-disco

“Alarm Shop II” and “BST”, Camden: fighting labels

"Alarm Shop II" and "British Security Technologies" burglar alarm, Camden • Another mysterious Alarm Shop II logo, this time fighting with a BST logo. Both look like transparent labels, and it's impossible to tell which was there first. It was found in a rather picturesque grot-niche in Leather Lane – that's it, below. • Spotted: Leather Lane, Camden, London, EC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Alarm Shop II” and “BST”, Camden: fighting labels

“Alarm Shop II”, Islington: where’s Shop 1?

"Alarm Shop II" burglar alarm, Islington • Now a very brief run of alarms named after shops. Not famous shops, like M&S or Tesco – just generic shops, as in Shop. This disco-tastic logo actually says Shop II, which is quite odd – I'm presuming it's pronounced Shop Two, as in Elizabeth Two, rather than Shop Eleven, as in a football team. But I've never found a Shop I. • Spotted: Packington Street, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Alarm Shop II”, Islington: where’s Shop 1?

“Bastion Protec Systems”, Dorking: defensible space

"Bastion Protec Systems" burglar alarm, Dorking • One of the very few "defensible space" sounders without an image on it, the name Bastion helpfully sums up all the alarms in this section. A bastion is literally a pointy bit of fortification that pokes out from castles and the like, but figuratively means a stronghold of some kind. As it happens I really like this logo: 1970s disco it may be, but it's sensitively designed in classic style, and looks like it was done by a professional. • Spotted: Town centre, Dorking, Surrey, RH4, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Mole Valley
“Bastion Protec Systems”, Dorking: defensible space

“Castle Security” burglar alarm: Caledonian Camelot

"Castle Security Group Ltd" burglar alarm • A proud flag-flying Caledonian Camelot with 1970s disco lettering, though the mound it's on looks more suited to a sandcastle. This must be a big firm north of the border, as I saw variations on this bell box design all over Edinburgh. (Visits website helpfully trailed on alarm.) Yes, they've been "securing East Central Scotland since 1981", and the website is a veritable playground of animations and sound effects – I had minutes of fun running my cursor up and down the menu. Castle is a clever name for burglar alarms, if you think about it: not just because an Englishman's (and it seems a Scotsman's) home is his castle, but castles have keeps – and sounders warn you to keep out. Positively Shakespearean. • Spotted: Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Edinburgh East
“Castle Security” burglar alarm: Caledonian Camelot

“Premier Security Ltd”, Westminster: chillax

"Premier Security Ltd" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Phew, what a lot of different Premier burglar alarms there are. Finally, a whizzy silver one with faux futuristic lettering from the UK Prime Minister's home turf of Westminster. A new breed of Conservative premier, perhaps – the pseudo-modern kind that likes to chillax and LOL. • Spotted: Newman Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Premier Security Ltd”, Westminster: chillax

“Premier”, East Grinstead: head of state

"Premier" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • After sundry aristocrats and yesterday's military dictator, our bigwigs are getting a bit more democratic. In many countries a premier is a head of state, and in some of those states – such as Britain – it's interchangeable with the term Prime Minister. This handsome blue sounder comes from the deeply conservative town of East Grinstead (as quite a few of my bigwig alarms do), and could conceivably date back to the days of John Major, so I reckon it's a Tory premier. • Spotted: High Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Premier”, East Grinstead: head of state

“Swift Security Systems”, Southwark: 1970s band

"Swift Security Systems" burglar alarm, Southwark • This looks like the logo for a 1970s band, as doodled on the back of a schoolbook. It's positively leaning forward with swiftness, and the enclosing "S" is keeping everything safe. I can't find an extant firm called specifically Swift Security Systems, however, so its provenance remains a mystery. • Spotted: Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Swift Security Systems”, Southwark: 1970s band

“Glo Bell”, Westminster: self-referential

"Glo Bell" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Sporting Edward Benguiat and Victor Caruso's ever-popular Bauhaus font from 1975, this is the only red "baton" sounder I've ever found. I've seen quite a few newer-style Glo Bell alarms around London, and though I can't find a website for them, the firm is apparently still active – good news, as I always like self-referential bell boxes featuring bells. • Spotted: Berwick Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Glo Bell”, Westminster: self-referential

“Westronics Ltd”, Lambeth: space-age creature

"Westronics Ltd" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Finally, another un-nameable shape, which is a bit like the body of a sea creature, or less imaginatively a razor. Maybe the ascendancy of these rounded, amorphous shapes over the chunky, straight-edged forms of yore is due to the advent of computer-aided 3D modelling, something achievable on a laptop today but requiring NASA-like processing power not so long ago. The Berkshire family firm behind this box has appropriately space-age roots, having been founded in 1969, year of the first moon landing. That era is reflected in their logo, which I think is a condensed version of Blippo, a font from 1969 based on Bauhaus supremo Herbert Bayer's influential "Universal Typeface" of the 1920s. I note that Westronics no longer uses this design of sounder, as demonstrated by the up-to-date deltas on their official website here. However it remains the only example of this shape I've come across, and I end with it because it also pictures the next theme, a weapon popular with ancient villains and security forces alike – the arrow. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Westronics Ltd”, Lambeth: space-age creature

“Key Integrated Systems”, Bristol: soap dish

"Key Integrated Systems" burglar alarm, Bristol • We're moving into uncommon rectangular shapes now, which basically means boxes with fancy edges or indentations – so although rare, they're not the most exciting of enclosures. This has a ridged clear panel beneath a curved white top, and is the only example I've ever seen. It's not very recognisable however, and the best I can say about it is that it's a bit like a soap dish, or perhaps a sea slug. I can't argue with the disco-tastic logo though, which manages to incorporate an acronym, a star, locksmithery, technology, and the fact that K.I.S. were established in 1976. How on earth does Bristol support so many independent security firms? It suggests it's the crime hot-spot of the western world, though I'm sure it's not. • Spotted: Queen Charlotte Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Key Integrated Systems”, Bristol: soap dish

“Micromark”, Great Missenden: 1960s sci-fi

"Micromark Security Systems" burglar alarm, Great Missenden • I've already featured Micromark in the retrofuturism section, and I now know they're a defunct DIY option – but I still like their unusual proprietary boxes, which are really 1960s sci-fi. There are quite a few yellow ones around, but this the only white-with-big-black-spot example I've seen. • Spotted: Town centre, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Micromark”, Great Missenden: 1960s sci-fi

“MicroTec Security”, Milton Keynes: fancy-edged

"MicroTec Security" burglar alarm, Milton Keynes • Like yesterday's pointy-sided MicroTec, this newer box is a rarely-sighted fancy-edged shape – indeed the only example I've seen. It's duller and less recognisable than the older enclosure however, so it's good to see they've kept their striking retrofuturist logo. • Spotted: Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK9, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Milton Keynes North
“MicroTec Security”, Milton Keynes: fancy-edged

“Microtec Security”, Richmond: pointy-sided survivor

"Microtec Security" burglar alarm, Richmond upon Thames • This is quite a striking old pointy-sided sounder design which doesn't crop up very often, though I also featured a vertical one here. I know that 20-year-old MicroTec Security still exists, and with much the same logo, because I was driving behind one of their vans in central London the other day – although they're actually based in Farnborough, Hampshire. Their name also qualifies them for the recent "retrofuturism" category, due celebrating micro-ness and tec-ness. This is a triple whammy as it also uses computer-style "camel caps", where a capital letter is used to break up two strung-together words. • Spotted: Barnes High Street, Richmond upon Thames, London, SW13, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Richmond Park
“Microtec Security”, Richmond: pointy-sided survivor

“ESS”, Tower Hamlets: bottom-lopped shield

"ESS" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Here's a rarely-seen shape that's very similar to Banham's proprietary shield, but with the crucial difference of having its bottom lopped off. Although ESS is an unexplained acronym, l happen to know that this psychedelic soundwave design belongs to Essex Security Services, who seem to regularly update their logo and sounders – not to be confused with ESS (Electronic & Security Services) in Northern Ireland, or ESS-Security Ltd of Leeds. Not the most exclusive set of initials, clearly. • Spotted: Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“ESS”, Tower Hamlets: bottom-lopped shield

“First Choice”, Westminster: Buddhist drum

"First Choice" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • So, time for a rather large new category: uncommon shapes. By that I mean sounder covers in shapes that don't crop up that often, either through general unpopularity, or because they're the preserve of one particular firm. Circular sounders aren't rare, but this particular design – a deep cylinder with semi-notched sides – I've only seen used by First Choice, perhaps to match their yin-yang logo. Unsuited as a Buddhist peace symbol may seem to the business of felon-fighting, it's not the only example I've found on a burglar alarm, though the other one may have been a "political statement" as I found it in a radical part of Bristol – I'll publish it one day. • Spotted: Great Titchfield Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“First Choice”, Westminster: Buddhist drum

“Disc”, Glasgow: sounder with a built-in CD

"Disc Security Systems" burglar alarm, Glasgow • This is one for the retro-futurism archives – a weird and wonderful bell box with a mini-CD in the centre (not quite obsolete, but hardly futuristic), and a faux-computer font as discussed in the Micro entry. Photos on the Caledonian firm's website suggest the CD comes to life when the sun shines (cue crap Scottish weather jokes), refracting a shimmering rainbow of hues – though if they wanted to be truly retro-trendy, they'd need a steampunk vinyl burglar alarm like the 1939 Burgot example below. The Disc here is proudly protecting the Glasgow Police Museum, which explores the history of the UK’s first police force – namely, the City of Glasgow Police – and apparently contains Europe's largest collection of police uniforms. Nice to know they still need a burglar alarm, though. • Spotted: Bell Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central The Police Museum in Glasgow with its Disc burglar alarm-cum-CD Burgot burglar alarm with vinyl disc, 1939, from the Science Museum, London
“Disc”, Glasgow: sounder with a built-in CD

“Nu-Tron”, Tower Hamlets: thermonuclear device

"Nu-Tron Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Thanks to various commenters, I now know that Nu-Tron is the successor company to yesterday's M-Tronic, and you can certainly see the resemblance in the big rounded initial. It's an unusual shape of box which I've not featured before, and anything called Nu-Tron that looks more like an Old-Tron simply demands to be put in the "retro-futurist" category. But as for naming your sounders after a thermonuclear device specifically designed to kill all nearby humans while leaving buildings standing? A bit extreme, surely. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Nu-Tron”, Tower Hamlets: thermonuclear device

“M-Tronic”, Islington: antiques arcade oldster

"M-Tronic Alarms Ltd." burglar alarm, Islington • Recently there was much discussion under an old Lander box about the firm M-Tronic, and its successor Nu-Tron. To summarise, it was stated that M-Tronic was an east London company whose bell boxes were secured with two screws (just about visible through the rust here) similar to a Lander box, and whose owners sold out to Lander before going on to form Nu-Tron – a firm which will be discussed tomorrow. I'd never seen an M-Tronic sounder, and the commenters reckoned very few ever existed, but I've now discovered this incredibly oxidised, but still legible, M-Tronic example in the apt surrounds of an Islington antiques arcade. I've put it in the "retrofuturism" section because calling anything something-tronic sounds futuristically dated. And it also makes me think of futuristic-in-80s electro record label M-Tronic, and the similarly vintage electro-hip-hop duo Mantronix, whose logo serendipitously features yesterday's computer typeface. Though even both of those old-skool "tronics" are probably more recent than this ancient alarm with its pre-01 phone number. Interesting phone fact: the prefix here, 555, is regularly used for fictitious phone numbers in American films and TV shows (see for instance The Simpsons), as it covers a special set of numbers not used by any US exchange. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Camden, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“M-Tronic”, Islington: antiques arcade oldster

“Micro”, Camden: a classic of computer design

"Micro Security Systems" burglar alarm, Camden • This is a classic piece of retro-futurism - it's called Micro, and is illustrated with a microchip, that pinnacle of modernity. The typeface is a Letraset classic called Data 70 (the name's a good clue to its vintage), created by British designer Bob Newman in 1970. It's one of many such that came out around that time, based on the machine-readable MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) text you can still find in chequebooks, which despite the banks' best efforts are still with us. Since their brief moment of trendiness, such "computer fonts" have lived on eternally in the worlds of sci-fi and naffness, though it's the kind of naffness that graphic designers always retain a fondness for. For any typophiles perusing this, there's a really interesting thread about the origins of Data 70-style letterforms here. Of more interest to security professionals will be that the Micro lives above an extremely well-preserved vintage AFA sounder, with all the attendant wiring intact – it's pictured below. Much more fascinating than  the origins of a dodgy old computer font (not). • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Micro”, Camden: a classic of computer design

“Aaron Hi-Tec”, Bristol: now looking sadly lo-tech

"Aaron Hi-Tec" burglar alarm, Bristol • To kick off the retro-futurist theme, here's an LED font that's obviously meant to look high tech (after all, it says so in the name), but is now definitely vieux chapeau. I've recently featured an oval Aaron sounder, but this one's much older, and its decay adds still further to the retro-futurist poignancy. To be fair, the style of Aaron's LED text is a bit more modern than the seven-segment display on yesterday's Monarch, and you still see this kind of scrolling display on everything from bus stops to billboards. It's just not very high tech, that's all. • Spotted: Jubilee Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Aaron Hi-Tec”, Bristol: now looking sadly lo-tech

“Monarch”, Lambeth: dribbly digital throwback

"Monarch Security Services" burglar alarm, Lambeth • I started the royalty theme with a Monarch, so I'll end with one. I don't know if this is the same firm, and as it's long pre-internet I can't find out, but it's the most sorry example of a regal alarm so far – faded and dribbly and with a design that makes no reference to the lofty name. Instead, it's in a style that's come to be known as "retro-futurism", that is to say designs which were originally an attempt to look futuristic but now look poignantly dated – like this alarm's imitation seven-segment LED font, recalling the days when pocket calculators cost 200 quid. With renewed interest in film cameras, vinyl records and 8-bit video games, retro-futurism is much in vogue these days. I'd hate to see burglar alarms left out of a fashion craze, so coming next... retro-futurism! • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Monarch”, Lambeth: dribbly digital throwback

“Samaritan”, Camden: unholy rip-off

"Samaritan" burglar alarm, Camden • We all know Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan, who crossed the road to help a wounded stranger. It's an odd reference for a burglar alarm, as are The Samaritans, those nice people you phone up when feeling suicidal. But more interesting to the graphics geek in me is that this attractive modernist S logo is a rip-off of the seminal trademark for British Steel (below), before they stupidly changed their name to Corus. It was by top British designer David Gentleman, whose weirdly obscure mural at Charing Cross tube station annoys me every time I go past it. His British Steel S may in turn have been "inspired" by the eerily similar earlier Security Pacific Bank logo (below) by legendary art director Saul Bass, behind of some of the world's most famous logos and film titles, from Kleenex to The Man with the Golden Arm. He also claimed responsibility for directing the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho; so, given the security and nightmare intruder references, maybe this Saul Bass "tribute" has some relevance after all. • Spotted: Museum Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Left: Rembrandt's "The Good Samaritan" (1630) from the Wallace Collection in London. Right: a 1960s S logos by David Gentleman, above, and an earlier one by Saul Bass, below.
“Samaritan”, Camden: unholy rip-off

“Aaron”, Bristol: biblical bigwig

"Aaron Hi-Tech" burglar alarm, Bristol • Although not much feted in western Christianity, Aaron – Moses' elder brother and the first high priest of the Israelites – is a big player in Judaism and Islam, and a major saint across the lands of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He's a popular subject in gorgeous Russian icons, but in western art is rarely depicted, with the lone pinnacle being Pier Francesco Mola’s recently discovered “Aaron, Holy to the Lord” (below), painted around 1650. The magnificent old master shows a severe-faced Aaron carrying out his sacred duties on Yom Kippur, aided by nothing more hi-tech than a silver censer and a big hat – suggesting this alarm suffers from an extreme misnomer. • Spotted: Town centre, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: Aaron, east and west. Left: an 18th-century icon from Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia. Right: Pier Francesco Mola's superb painting, "Aaron, Holy to the Lord", c.1650.
“Aaron”, Bristol: biblical bigwig

“Abel”, East Grinstead: biblical victim

"Abel Alarm" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • According to the Bible, Abel was the world's first murder victim, being the son of Adam and Eve who was slain by his brother Cain. This firm's memorable name is definitely a reference to the event, as recorded in this article I came across by an Abel employee. In it, the company's boss Peter Eyre explains that when he launched the firm in 1965, he wanted a name that would sit atop all alphabetical lists. "So obviously I was looking at AA," he is quoted as saying, "but that had already gone! Therefore, I picked up the Oxford Dictionary and came across Abel – who was the slayer of Cain. I thought that it was good to have a religious connection. In addition, the name Abel is at the top of the list…A followed by B. It infers and sounds like an alarm bell – A Bell! To sum up we as a company are very able…so that was it, I got it registered." So the name is Abel, able, alphabetical and a bell – which is all very clever, but maybe the interview was wrongly transcribed, because Abel didn't kill Cain, he was killed by him, becoming an eternal symbol of martyrdom. Whatever, my favourite placing of this biblical classic is above a door in Church Walk, shown below. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid Above: an old example of the biblical alarm aptly placed in Church Walk, Rugby
“Abel”, East Grinstead: biblical victim

“Grange”, Old Amersham: monkish manor

"Grange" burglar alarm, Old Amersham • Home, home on the grange – a popular place name in England, and originally denoting the farming estate of a monastery, of which there were once squillions. Henry VIII seized them all at the dissolution of the monasteries, then doled out the land to his noble chums, hence the term's continuing association with manors and country houses today. Posh Old Amersham is exactly the kind of place you'd associate with burglar alarm-studded Tudorbethan granges, though this excellent ancient design is probably too modern for local tastes. • Spotted: Town centre, Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP7, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Grange”, Old Amersham: monkish manor

“Intervene Security Ltd”, Tower Hamlets: lightning field

"Intervene Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A piece of Land art I have always wanted to see is Walter de Maria's The Lightning Field (1977), a square kilometre of remote New Mexico desert bristling with 400 steel poles, designed to channel both occasional lightning storms and the sun's daily passage. But since it's around 5,000 miles away, and you have to pay $250 to stay there overnight (and aren't even allowed to take photos), I shall have to make do instead with a few burglar alarms bearing lightning flashes, aka thunderbolts. Once popular, it's rather a low-tech symbol these days, so is found mainly on vintage sounders such as this one. Note to completists: I've already featured a few thunderbolts – on Aegis, EnrightHaven and X Ray – in other categories. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Intervene Security Ltd”, Tower Hamlets: lightning field

“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

"Lockrite Security" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • This was found in Aylesbury, which seemed to me a shabby, sullen and faintly menacing place, despite being the county town of posh Berkshire. A brief Google search on crap towns shows that I am not alone in this assessment, but luckily crap towns are prime hunting grounds for old burglar alarms. The naive monogram on this one looks like the fabric design from a cheap 1970s A-line crimplene skirt, which ironically makes it the height of fashion, as the hideous-sounding "1970s mom" look is very modish right now. In fact everything about this alarm cries out "1970s mom", from the naff name to the cheesy font. Which is why I rather like it. • Spotted: Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury
“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

“Knight”, Camden: peeling Venetian violence

"Knight Security Services" burglar alarm, Camden • Yet another slice of the Kilburn High Road's architectural riches, this peeling, honey-toned wall would not look amiss on the medieval streets of Venice. Appropriate then that the nicely matching alarm is titled Knight, though its razzle-dazzle pink logo is more suggestive of a 1980s knitting store. The alarm has replaced a bigger version since the wall was repainted (some time ago, clearly); I like the way it's been accurately placed in the bottom left corner of the bare patch. Knights and their world of courtly, aristocratic violence are a hugely popular burglar alarm trope, and one I shall return to. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Knight”, Camden: peeling Venetian violence

“Wessex Alarms”, Salisbury: an owl from Hardy country

"Wessex Alarms" burglar alarm, Salisbury • Wessex is the historical stomping ground of the West Saxons, a place name which long predates the invention of burglar alarms, if not owls. But although it is the sharply-drawn setting for Thomas Hardy's depressing bucolic novels, and sounds like a county to rival Sussex, Middlesex and Essex, in administrative terms Wessex doesn't actually exist. The proud name lives on, however, in the collective consciousness of a large swathe of south-western England, and is used to brand everything from radio stations to colleges to – as here – burglar alarms. Wiltshire, the "Wessex" county where I found this, is famed for its neolithic standing stones and bony, chalky hills – an ancient and mysterious landscape, at its most other-worldly by twilight. So a silhouetted owl seems appropriate, though being perched cutely on a 1970s disco-style logo somewhat detracts from the atmosphere. • Spotted: Town centre, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Devizes
“Wessex Alarms”, Salisbury: an owl from Hardy country

“Minder”, Lambeth: knackered nuclear device

Minder burglar alarm Lambeth 2011"Minder" burglar alarm, Lambeth • With its red button light and circuit-laced dial, this it looks like the decaying control panel for some superannuated nuclear device, and is the first of this design I've come across. I only found it yesterday, on some railway arches near one of Damien Hirst's many studios; if I'd discovered it earlier I'd have posted it after the Crime Fighter alarm, whose graphics so reminded me of The Sweeney's opening credits. Comedy crime caper Minder was Euston Films' equally classic follow-up, and also starred Dennis Waterman, albeit on the other side of the law – he played Terry McCann, minder of small-time spiv Arthur Daley, for those too young to remember. Minder was big in the 1980s, and though I'm no expert in electronics, the antique wiring on display here appears of the same vintage as Tel-boy's Ford Capri, and the graphics even older. I only hope Damien Hirst appreciates having such an unusual vintage alarm box opposite his premises. • Spotted: Newport Street, Lambeth, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Minder burglar alarm Lambeth 2011
“Minder”, Lambeth: knackered nuclear device

“Detec New Romney”, Bexhill: nuclear quill

Detec burglar alarm Bexhill 2009"Detec New Romney" burglar alarm, Bexhill • The isolated marsh town of New Romney is more ancient than its name suggests, and I "detec" that this alarm's been around a long time too. Painstakingly drawn in scratchy pre-DTP pen lines, it combines the tropes of detection and tech in a naive 1970s blast of letters, as if radiating from the ageing nuclear power station at nearby Dungeness. The famous driftwood garden of overrated 1980s film-maker Derek Jarman is also at Dungeness, while Jarman himself lies long-buried in the graveyard of New Romney's Norman church. Unfortunately he doesn't add any circularity to my thesis, because I actually found this alarm in Bexhill. • Spotted: Marina Arcade, Bexhill, East Sussex, TN40, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Bexhill and Battle Detec burglar alarm Bexhill 2009
“Detec New Romney”, Bexhill: nuclear quill

“Detecta Link”, Lowestoft: Detecta Dull

Detecta Link burglar alarm, Lowestoft, 2007"Detecta Link Fire & Security Systems" burglar alarm • To catch a thief requires detection, and detection is by its very nature painstaking and procedural, but do alarms featuring a detection theme have to be so dull? The answer, it seems, is yes: and this snorey object is one of the more interesting ones, because at least it's a bit 1970s, and features sound waves. (In general, concentric circles or arcs seem to represent sound, rather than light.) There are duller to come. • Spotted: Town centre, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Waveney Detecta Link burglar alarm, Lowestoft, 2007
“Detecta Link”, Lowestoft: Detecta Dull

“Crime Stop Protected”, Birmingham: death disco

"Crime Stop Protected" burglar alarm, Birmingham, 2005 • The Mad Man burglar from IAS returns, only to be caught in a pulsating op-art circle, reminiscent of HAL's all-seeing "eye" in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's often hard to tell whether such wave visualisations represent sound or light; perhaps this is meant to conjure up both, a blaring hell of screaming sirens and strobing beams, pinning our suave criminal like a moth on a spotlight in a nightmarish 1970s disco. We can see you, Dave... • Spotted: Meriden Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
“Crime Stop Protected”, Birmingham: death disco