Skip to content

Bulb

DGI, Islington, 2016

DGI, Upper Holloway, Islington, London, N19, 2016 (by Christopher Seddon) • Possibly the last alarm for a while, a rather racy two-tone jobbie supplied by the noted prehistorian Christopher Seddon (books here), […]
DGI, Islington, 2016

Multi-Alarm, 2011

“Multi-Alarm Bristol” burglar alarm, Bath • The alarm isn’t rusty, but the label looks like it is. • Spotted: Bartlett Street, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal […]
Multi-Alarm, 2011

Masco, Lambeth, 2012

“Masco” burglar alarm, Lambeth • Here it is in happier days. It’s since been removed. • Spotted: Frazier Street, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Masco, Lambeth, 2012

SOS, Glasgow, 2010

“SOS” burglar alarm, Glasgow • Looks like they blanked out something above the padlock shield. There’s another, earlier-looking version here. • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • […]
SOS, Glasgow, 2010

EAS, Bath, 2011

“EAS Bath” burglar alarm, Bath • Nice old bell box quietly rusting on a Bath building. • Spotted: Crescent Lane, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal […]
EAS, Bath, 2011

Alert Security, Islington: mini-monogram

Alert Security "Alert Security" burglar alarm, Islington • There's a mini-monogram on this faded oldster if you look closely – an A in a shield up at the top. To my mind (ie the sad mind of a graphic designer), it makes a rather attractive composition with its background of semi-painted wall (see below). • Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Alert Security
Alert Security, Islington: mini-monogram

Apollo Alarms, Lambeth: sunrays

Apollo Alarms "Apollo Alarms" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Found near the Archbishop of Canterbury's gaff at Lambeth Palace, this features un-Christian Apollo, favourite Greek god of burglar alarms. So maybe that triangle of radiating waves is meant to be sunrays, rather than the more usual soundwaves.• Spotted: Lambeth Road, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Apollo Alarms, Lambeth: sunrays

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

City Security Holdings, Bristol: wrinkled

City Security Holdings "City Security Holdings" burglar alarm, Bristol • I always thought this logo was a crescent moon, but have just realised it may also be half an eye and also a C monogram – multilayered! Sadly the labels on these City alarms haven't worn well, they all seem to end up wrinkled like this one. • Spotted: Broad Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
City Security Holdings, Bristol: wrinkled

Cobra, Hackney: yum

Cobra KingslandHiSt nr E8 2PB 70407_800 "Cobra" burglar alarm, Hackney • It's eaten a giant bulb! • Spotted: Kingsland High Street, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington
Cobra, Hackney: yum

CMR Electrical, Bristol: tiny

CMR Electrical Telephone Bristol "CMR Electrical Telephone Bristol" burglar alarm, Bristol • A tiny, tiny old logo with a giant telephone number. It's too small to make out here, but the logo is a wee house surrounded by a giant chain and keys. • Spotted: Small Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
CMR Electrical, Bristol: tiny

Securitech, Islington: football shirt

Securitech "Securitech" burglar alarm, Islington • Today we move from science to technology, one of burglar alarm land's favourite tropes. I really like this striking old design, which looks like a stripy football shirt. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
Securitech, Islington: football shirt

GSS, Lambeth: extended

GSS Grays "GSS Grays" burglar alarm, Lambeth • I like the way the extended sci-fi-style type of this unexplained  SS-themed acronym fills the whole sounder. Grays Security Systems, perhaps? • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
GSS, Lambeth: extended

“Alpha”, Manchester: Phoenecian

Alpha "Alpha" burglar alarm, Manchester • Ancient Greek for "A", deriving from the Phoenecian for "ox" – and since those days, ie quite a long time ago, used to describe something very good. • Spotted: Deansgate area, Manchester, Lancashire, M1, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Manchester Central
“Alpha”, Manchester: Phoenecian

“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

“GAF Alarms”, Islington: punny

GAF Alarms "GAF Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • One of my favourites, both for its awkward yet traditional 1920s-style monogram, and the fact that GAF is a sort-of pun on house, though I'm not sure if that's intended.• Spotted: Whitecross Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“GAF Alarms”, Islington: punny

“Broadsword”, Hackney: burglar-slicer

"Broadsword" burglar alarm, Hackney • According to their website, Broadsword were formed in 1985 - and this sounder doesn't look much younger. A broadsword is a heavy military sword, all the better for slicing up burglars. Wikipedia reckons they have "basket handles" (ie the kind that cover your hand), though the one illustrated here doesn't. • Spotted: Paul Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Broadsword”, Hackney: burglar-slicer

“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

"HSS Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • HSS used to be based in Harlow, so I reckon HSS stands for Harlow Security Systems. Aptly for a sounder located in Tower Hamlets, it pictures a Beefeater - aka a Yeoman of the Guard, which is apparently an incorrect term for Yeoman Warder, ie a geezer who ceremonially "guards" the Tower of London. That looks like a vicious weapon he's carrying, but in fact it's just a decorative staff. Tomorrow however, the theme is indeed weapons. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

“Guardwell Ltd”, Camden: self-explanatory

"Guardwell Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • A name that falls into the "does what it says on the can" category – I doubt there are any firms called Guardbad. Note also the nice retrofuturist "GW" monogram, suggesting a waveform in a circle. One from a motherlode I found in the Kilburn High Road several years ago – if I ever run out of burglar alarms all I have to do is pay another visit, as there must be enough dodgy old bell boxes above the shops there to last at least another year. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Guardwell Ltd”, Camden: self-explanatory

“LanGuard Alarms”, Brighton: deja vu

"LanGuard Alarms" burglar alarm, Brighton • And another vintage shield-bearer – I guess shields were popular in the olden days. It's very similar to yesterday's box, but with a bulb. Is that Lan as in Local Area Network, I wonder? Or Len and Allan or something? Hmmm, I'm getting deja vu, maybe I featured this one before. (Checks.) Ah, I featured a Kestrel sticker which had been placed over a LanGuard box a while back and I see from the comment there that Lan refers to Lang, the proprietors. Apparently they're still going strong in the Brighton area, so this certainly isn't indicative of their current look – there's more info in the comment section below. • Spotted: Arundel Place, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“LanGuard Alarms”, Brighton: deja vu

“Rampart Security”, St Albans: un-illustrated

"Rampart Security" burglar alarm, St Albans • Apart from Bastion, this is the only fortification alarm featured that doesn't actually picture its defences. It's pasted over a vintage Shorrock, unless I'm very much mistaken – although of a type I've not featured yet, I'm surprised to discover. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans
“Rampart Security”, St Albans: un-illustrated

“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

“Krypto Security”, Lambeth: Dracula’s castle

"Krypto Security" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Yet another Krypto – I love Krypto sounders. Especially this nicely-drawn design, which sports a proper turreted castle (unlike yesterday's prisony thing) and spooky gothic lettering, complete with dripping mould. It looks more like an advert for Dracula than a sounder. Oh, and it was found in a road with Marsh in its name, like yesterday's – boggy ground is obviously a popular location for Krypto's creepy castles. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Krypto Security”, Lambeth: Dracula’s castle

“Britannia”, Southwark: patriotic lion

"Britannia" burglar alarm, Southwark • I end the Roman Britain theme as I began, with Britannia – I never tire of their swinging sixties-style logo, which wouldn't look out of place in a Paul Smith boutique. This old box has a bulb on top, which thanks to the comment here I now know is considered somewhat insecure, as a passing ne'er-do-well could use it to lever the alarm off. • Spotted: Morocco Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Britannia”, Southwark: patriotic lion

“Security Express”, Camden: slanty-edged

"Security Express Alarms" burglar alarm, Camden • Bearing the ever-popular shield trope, this slanty-edged bell box is a type that was once quite popular – indeed, it's still a common sight on old Cannon alarms around Bristol. There were some comments about the sounder's design beneath this SWAT box from York, including that it's "very loud and sounds unique", and is possibly a Regal Safe product. Regarding speed, the firm is express no more: a company search shows it was incorporated in 1946 and was also known in the 1980s as Hornet and later Computa-Guard, but was bought by Chubb in the 1990s. Blimey, the stuff you can turn up on the internet. • Spotted: Covent Garden area, Camden, London, WC2, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Security Express”, Camden: slanty-edged

“Swift Alarms Supplies”, Westminster: fast flier

"Swift Alarms Supplies Limited" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • There are billions (approx) of security firms featuring birds, but this is only the second Swift I've found – the other one is here, and is called simply Swift. This looks like the same silhouette and font as on that one, so I reckon it's an older incarnation of the same company which, judging by the 0892 code, was based in the Tunbridge Wells area. The selfsame bird can be found on the current website of  Swift Alarms Group, and indeed it says they started life in Tunbbridge Wells in 1978 as Swift Alarms Supplies Limited, so my guess was right. I should have just gone to their website first... • Spotted: Newman Passage, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Swift Alarms Supplies”, Westminster: fast flier

“Sprint”, Camden: city speeding

"Sprint Security Systems" burglar alarm, Camden • If your burglar alarm goes off you need help fast, so it's not surprising that swiftness is a popular security theme. This superb vintage Sprint, which undoubtedly rang rather than beeping like a reversing lorry on steroids, is very similar to the Arlescourt sounder here. It's ideally placed above a matching shop selling some vintage sprinters of a different type, namely Italian scooters (see below). And even the logo looks like it's speeding. • Spotted: Clerkenwell Road, Camden, London, EC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras [caption id="attachment_11728" align="alignnone" width="472"] A vintage Sprint alarm above some classic sprinters[/caption]
“Sprint”, Camden: city speeding

“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

"Arlescourt Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Severed hands are a popular image on burglar alarms, and quite apart from reminding thieves what appendage they might lose under sharia law, it's an ancient symbol with many connotations. The heraldic hand on this fine vintage sounder is grimly gripping a key in the manner of the Lady of the Lake brandishing Excalibur from her watery depths. It recalls the folkloric "Hand of Glory" – the dried and pickled mitt of a hanged felon, believed in medieval Europe to have the power to unlock any door it came across. There are grisly if contested examples in Whitby and Walsall museums, and a couple of mentions in Harry Potter. It's all most appropriate for a firm whose name sounds like something straight out of Camelot. • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras [caption id="attachment_11694" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="Hands of Glory: left, a medieval version, and right, Whitby Museum's example"][/caption]
“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

“Property Guard”, Westminster: wonky sentry

"Property Guard" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This wonky sentry was found next to a dingy net-curtained window in the red light area of Soho, so I won't speculate what kind of property his red bulb was was guarding. The sounder looks absolutely ancient, and I have no idea if the company still exists; there's another Property Guard in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, but I doubt it's the same firm. After a grand total of six, that's the last "baton" alarm I've found – definitely not a popular shape compared to the roughly contemporaneous Eurobell, and I still don't know what the style is really called. • Spotted: Peter Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Property Guard”, Westminster: wonky sentry

“Xtal”, Wandsworth: deprecated electronica

"Xtal" burglar alarm, Wandsworth • XTAL – what a brilliant sci-fi-sounding acronym, albeit unexplained. London's 01 area code only lasted until 1990, so unless Xtal's proprietor was deeply into avant-garde 1980s electronica, it's unlikely the firm's name was inspired by the eponymous track on Aphex Twin's 1992 debut album Selected Ambient Works 85–92. It's more likely both names refer to a different genre of electronica, namely a type of crystal oscillator sometimes notated as XTAL on electrical schematic diagrams. The term is now as deprecated is this ancient "baton" sounder's phone number, and I fear the once Wimbledon-based firm may be redundant too, for despite there being plenty of recent-looking Xtal sounders lurking around London, their website is nowhere to be found. • Spotted: Battersea Park Road, Wandsworth, London, SW11, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Battersea
“Xtal”, Wandsworth: deprecated electronica

“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

“Jaguar Alarms London”, Wandsworth: holey cat

"Jaguar Alarms London" burglar alarm, Wandsworth • Presumably this minimalist and somewhat holed Jaguar is a vintage remnant of the Acton-based Jaguar Alarm Company featured here – a company later acquired by Ambush, as discussed in these comments. This so-called (by me) "baton" sounder is unusual for having a blue bulb, and the logo printed directly on to it – all the others I've found have red bulbs and labels. Riveting! • Spotted: Battersea High Street, Wandsworth, London, SE11, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Battersea
“Jaguar Alarms London”, Wandsworth: holey cat

“Anglia Property Guards”, Norwich: not Alan Partridge

"Anglia Property Guards" burglar alarm, Norwich • Strictly speaking this monogram reads AGP, rather than APG, although the G is pretty indecipherable. It's just as well they spelled the whole name out, or I might have thought it was a reference to Norwich's finest export, Alan Partridge, aha. It's such a vintage alarm I wasn't expecting the firm to exist any more, but they're still going strong – you can see their current sounder and more legible logo here. Coincidentally they're based in a place called Banham, which is of course the name of another long-lived burglar alarm firm. • Spotted: Town centre, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Norwich South
“Anglia Property Guards”, Norwich: not Alan Partridge

“Civic Alarms”, Oxford: 1970s classic

"Civic Alarms" burglar alarm, Oxford • I like the way the red circle here suggests a "stop" sign, but also echoes the red bulb above it. It's just one of many differently-designed Civic alarms from various areas and eras I've come across, but I don't know if they are all the same firm. This was found on the olde-worlde covered market in Oxford town centre, and I saw various newer examples around town too, so I assume it's this Oxfordshire firm. But whether it's also the 1972-founded Civic Security whose website is here, I have no idea. The geometric slab-serif font is Rockwell (or something similar), which is a classic 1970s favourite, so it's a possibility. • Spotted: Covered Market, High Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“Civic Alarms”, Oxford: 1970s classic

“OxLox Alarm Systems”, Oxford: baton sounder

"OxLox Alarm Systems" burglar alarm, Oxford • Today I start a brief run of what, until someone tells me their proper name, I can only call "baton" sounders – these long, slim, rather elegant boxes, with a flat circular bulb at the top. From the ancient phone numbers it's clear they are vintage, and they generally sport interesting graphics. This one, OxLox, is superb: it looks like a piece of art typography, or concrete poetry, and namechecks a bizarre anglo-jewish food combination – ox (as in ox cheek or ox tail) and lox (as in the cured salmon you get in bagels). In fact it's a clever play on "Oxford Locks", for an Oxfordshire firm that is no more. (Update: a commenter, below, says they do still exist but with a different phone number.) • Spotted: George Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“OxLox Alarm Systems”, Oxford: baton sounder

“Gardner”, Gloucester: wrong kind of gardener

"Gardner Security" burglar alarm, Gloucester • Finally, a gardener to keep up with all these botanical sounders – though one with poor spelling, and in possession of a lion. I assumed it was this Gardner Security, who lasted from 1981 to 2010, then became subsumed by Christie Intruder Alarms, the 42-year-old firm behind the famous CIA "crouching man" sounders. But a comment below tells me that this is a different Gardner Security, of Gloucester – who sold to Modern in the 1990s, thus ending up as part of ADT So now you know. • Spotted: Town centre, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Gloucester
“Gardner”, Gloucester: wrong kind of gardener

“Beanacre Alarms”, Frome: rural old bean

"Beanacre Alarms" burglar alarm, Frome • Just what you'd expect to find in the rural West Country, Beanacre is an obviously botanical name, as it sounds like an acre you grow beans on. And sure enough, there is indeed a place in Wiltshire called Beanacre – which is where this elderly alarm emanated from, as this local business site attests. It's not the world's most exciting acre – that's a picture of it, below. • Spotted: Town centre, Frome, Somerset, BA11, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Somerton and Frome [caption id="attachment_11499" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="Welcome to Beanacre. Please drive carefully."][/caption]
“Beanacre Alarms”, Frome: rural old bean

“Banham Security”, Southwark”: silver-grilled

"Banham Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • Before Banham developed their shield-shaped sounder they used all sorts of box styles, but this is the only shiny silver-grilled one I've found, and in fact the only example of this type of box I've ever seen. It's on an attractive old building in Bermondsey Street called the Time and Talents Settlement, home to a charity founded by local women in 1887 and still going strong today, offering locals "volunteering opportunities and numerous groups and projects to participate in". Maybe I'll go round and volunteer to run a burglar alarm-spotting course. • Spotted: Bermondsey Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Banham Security”, Southwark”: silver-grilled