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Niche

“Banham”, Westminster: tilting at niches

"Banham" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • My final niche for now is pushing it a bit, because I accept that this isn't strictly a niche. However, this tilting Banham alarm, looking as if it's trying desperately to break free of its restricted slot on a smart SW1 balcony, doesn't really fit within any other theme, and is a nice counterpoint to the bricked-up Banham a few entries back. And that's niche enough for me. • Spotted: Vauxhall bridge Road, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Banham”, Westminster: tilting at niches

“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: leafy glade

"Town & Country" burglar alarm, Great Missenden • A natural niche rather than an architectural one, this swathe of leaves is protecting an aptly-named Town & Country alarm (which has an excellent clamp-based logo that I'll feature in more depth another time). I found it in the chi-chi Chilterns town of Great Missenden, long-time home of author Roald Dahl, who now lies buried in the church graveyard (he's dead, obviously). • Spotted: Town centre, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: leafy glade

“Thorn”, East Grinstead: prim and proper

"Thorn" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • I've already recounted the tangled corporate history of the modernist Thorn alarms, which you'll find here. This 1970s-designed Thorn is protruding through the twee terracotta tiles of a no doubt historic roof, from which – East Grinstead being a prim and proper kind of place – the proud homeowner has cut a neat circular niche to accommodate their big red anti-burglar device. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Thorn”, East Grinstead: prim and proper

“Spy Alarms”, Lambeth: a creepy Masonic sign?

"Spy Alarms" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Once upon a time, a proud Lower Marsh retailer had this burglar alarm smartly fitted into a niche in their shop sign. Such was their attention to detail, that before the Spy label was stuck on, they even had the alarm's case painted dark blue to match the fascia. Then along came the sun, the wind and the rain – and off started to peel the Spy label, because it didn't stick to the paint properly. The result is a scarily blank crying / beaming Egyptian-style eye above a decaying paranoiac logo, peeking creepily out of its hole like a weird old sign for some defunct Masonic lodge. (Although Lower Marsh is so odd it wouldn't surprise me if there actually was a Masonic lodge there.) • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Spy Alarms”, Lambeth: a creepy Masonic sign?

Hidden alarm, Westminster: a hand-tailored hole

Burglar alarm with name hidden in niche, City of Westminster • A custom alarm niche in swanky New Bond Street, home of London's most expensive niche retailers. The sounder is clinging gecko-like to the roof of a shop doorway, which I happened across while it was undergoing refitting works during the transition from one rip-off fashion emporium to another. And so high class a job was it, that when the builders boarded the doorway up, they even cut out this snug little hand-tailored hole especially for the burglar alarm. • Spotted: New Bond Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
Hidden alarm, Westminster: a hand-tailored hole

“Banham”, Lambeth: posh alarm, rough niche

"Banham" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This is brilliant – a posh Banham alarm in the most rough-and-ready bespoke niche. I found it on the wall of Pimlico Plumbers, who despite their toney SW1 name are located in the distinctly less upmarket area of Kennington, on the other side of the River Thames. • Spotted: Sail Street, Lambeth, London, SE11, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Banham”, Lambeth: posh alarm, rough niche

“Home Guard Vess”, Birkenhead: roadside icons

"Home Guard Vess" burglar alarm, Birkenhead • This, like yesterday's niche, comes from a Merseyside warehouse, though across the the river in Birkenhead. I found it during a rather anal search for 1930s Mersey Tunnel vents, immense rectilinear brick structures reminiscent of neo-fascist churches (there are some excellent photos here). Of course, due to its Irish heritage, the whole Merseyside area is strongly Roman Catholic – which lends these burglar alarm niches the feel of vigilant roadside icons. • Spotted: Shore Road area, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birkenhead
“Home Guard Vess”, Birkenhead: roadside icons

“Falcon Security”, Liverpool: tatty bird, nice niche

"Falcon Security" burglar alarm, Liverpool • I always enjoy burglar alarms' varied architectural settings: some languish in obscure corners amidst layers of grimy urban decay, whilst others are proudly placed and neatly painted around. Some are even fortunate enough to have their own dedicated niches, and it is to these that I turn this week. Having just finished a fortnight of random burglar alarm birds, my first niche is home to a rather tatty falcon (a species be covered more fully in a later series on hawkish alarm birds). This circular brickwork detail decorates a 19th-century warehouse near Tate Liverpool, now given over to that booming 21st-century descendant of warehousing, self-storage. • Spotted: Norfolk Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“Falcon Security”, Liverpool: tatty bird, nice niche