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Certes, Camden, 2012

“Certes” burglar alarm, Camden • Circular Certes; there’s a rectangular one with no roundel here. • Spotted: Percy Street, Camden, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency […]
Certes, Camden, 2012

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

Modern Alarms, Camden: algae

Modern Alarms "Modern Alarms" burglar alarm, Camden • As you can see, I'm posting a run of these clear-capped Eurobells at the moment. Not only does this have the logo both above and below the lid, there's a circuit board and an algae farm sandwiched between them, which is somewhat distracting. • Spotted: Frognal Way, Camden, London, NW3, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
Modern Alarms, Camden: algae

Safe and Secure, Cardiff: bike lock

Safe and Secure "Safe and Secure" burglar alarm, Cardiff • I always like a Welsh burglar alarm. No idea what the shape surrounding the logo is meant to suggest,  although it looks a bit like a bike lock. • Spotted: St Mary Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10, Wales, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Cardiff Central
Safe and Secure, Cardiff: bike lock

Alarm Service Group, Bristol: blurred

Alarm Service Group "Alarm Service Group" burglar alarm, Bristol • Another version of yesterday's brand, this time on a variation of the Eurobell which has a clear plastic lid. This would look OK except the logo is repeated underneath the lid, meaning it looks so blurred you can't read it properly. • Spotted: Gloucester Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
Alarm Service Group, Bristol: blurred

Alarm Service Group, Bristol: sad

Alarm Service Group "Alarm Service Group" burglar alarm, Bristol • Much as I like Eurobells, Alarm Service Group's nice logo looks rather sad on this one; nowhere near as impressive as when on their unusual square sounder, a custom classic featured here• Spotted: Quay Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
Alarm Service Group, Bristol: sad

Banham, Lambeth: minimal

Banham "Banham" burglar alarm, Lambeth • An even more minimal Banham Eurobell than yesterday's. You could even suspect someone letraseted the logo on to make their security arrangements look posh. • Spotted: Roupell Street, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Banham, Lambeth: minimal

Be-Sure, East Grinstead: oomph

Be-Sure "Be-Sure" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • These Eurobells seem to attract very basic design, but at least this one has some oomph – and I love the reassuring name. • Spotted: Queens Walk, East Grinstead, West Sussex,  England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
Be-Sure, East Grinstead: oomph

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

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

CAS Security, Hackney: beaky

CAS Security "CAS Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • This is a very peculiar design; I can't work out whether the logo is meant to be a monogram, a stylised object of some kind, or just random. To me, it most suggests a weird beaky face. I saw loads of these in Birmingham recently, so it's not an uncommon brand. • Spotted: Shoreditch High Street, Hackney, London, E1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
CAS Security, Hackney: beaky

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

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

“A1”, Westminster: alphabetical

A1 Security Systems "A1 Security Systems" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Nice Eurobell suggesting a Roman road, something very good, and an ambition to come first in alphabetical lists... • Spotted: Great Titchfield Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“A1”, Westminster: alphabetical

“Abel”, Falmouth: able

Abel "Abel" burglar alarm, Falmouth • OK, so it says Abel not Able – but Abel's founder, quoted here, says the name was intended to suggest the company was "able" (among many other things) – therefore qualifying for the category of excellence. Anyway, I like the Eurobell sounder; and I found it in the Cornish town of Falmouth, which is excellent in itself. • Spotted: Arwenack Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Truro and Falmouth
“Abel”, Falmouth: able

“Adept”, Bath: understated

Adept Fire & Security Systems Ltd "Adept Fire & Security Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, Bath • This logo with its strange pink spot suggests only borderline excellence, as adept is such an odd, understated word: the thesaurus offers flowery synonyms like adroit, accomplished, and dextrous. But it's more fun playing "antonym alarms", so my non-excellent doppelganger would simply be called "Inept fire and security". Which might not catch on. • Spotted: Miles's Buildings, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath
“Adept”, Bath: understated

Bank ghost alarms, Camden: redundant duo

Ghost burglar alarms (bank), Camden • These ex-sounders are on a Lloyds TSB, but banks haven't got any money so I guess they don't need alarms any more - and they used to have two of them! Unless one of them was some other form of electronic box. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
Bank ghost alarms, Camden: redundant duo

Eyed ghost alarm, Camden: screwy peepers

Ghost burglar alarm (eyed), Camden • Nearly a year ago I featured some ex-burglar alarms, which as I explained at the time, come in two forms: ghosts, where they’ve been fully removed, leaving just a mark on the wall; and skeletons, where some casing remains. Then I focused on skeletons, so now I'm posting some ghosts. Some are more recognisable than others, as the only clue to their brand is the shape and a few screw-holes, which here look like eyes. The sounder was clearly round one, so a Thorn or an AFA Minerva perhaps. • Spotted: Finchley Road, Camden, London, NW3, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
Eyed ghost alarm, Camden: screwy peepers

“InTech Fire & Security”, Tower Hamlets: good omen

"InTech Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Judging by yesterday's alarm, the tick trope is starting to look like an omen for longevity. Here's another family firm still apparently going strong after 25 years, though according to the Essex outfit's inextensive website it looks like they've dropped the lively tick. Without its promise of "rightness",  all that's left is a connotation of techiness, though I guess InTech may also be a play on In Touch, which I always thought was a Radio 4 programme for the visually impaired (it's quite good actually). • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“InTech Fire & Security”, Tower Hamlets: good omen

“Instant Aid Protection”, Westminster: bold promise

"Instant Aid Protection" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This vintage Eurobell boldly promises instant aid, which is about as speedy as you can get. I'm not sure if the company was called "Instant Aid" or "Instant Aid Protection", but either way it's not exactly a catchy name, and the logo – if such it is – is pretty basic too. It was found in the dilapidated but once-grand shopping arcade at Victoria Station (hence the fancy moulding, below), which is now being redeveloped. • Spotted: Victoria Arcade, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster [caption id="attachment_11856" align="alignnone" width="472"] The alarm in its grungily grand setting at Victoria Station[/caption]
“Instant Aid Protection”, Westminster: bold promise

“Woodside”, Westminster: bosky cops

"Woodside" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This is a classic of what I think of as "police" design – alarms with blue-and-white graphics recalling, whether intentionally or not, the corporate identity of the UK's constabulary; in this case, the checks that adorn their cars and hatbands. It is at odds with the bucolic name of Woodside, perhaps chosen because this Finchley-based firm is surrounded by so many woods. No, I never associated Margaret Thatcher's old manor with woodlands either – but look on Google maps and you'll see Big Wood, Little Wood, Cherry Tree Wood, Highgate Wood, Queen's Wood and Coldfall Wood all in the vicinity. Who knew Finchley was so bosky? • Spotted: Horseferry Road, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Woodside”, Westminster: bosky cops

“Trencherwood New Homes”, Southwark: old oak

"Trencherwood New Homes" burglar alarm, Southwark • Inexplicably, the house I found this on was "new" in around 1800, which was before even Berkshire-based property firm Trencherwood New Homes’ era, though they're part of history too, now. There's a picture on Flickr of a bronze ram statue Trencherwood commissioned in 1989 (seriously), which has a comment saying they sold up in 1996 and were eventually acquired by Barratt Developments PLC in 2007. Their heyday seems to have been the 1980s, which would be commensurate with this Eurobell – note the famed "off centre" screw, as recently discussed here. It's decorated with a sprig of gently decaying oak leaves and acorns, strengthening my suspicion that all sounders with acorns on are for defunct firms. • Spotted: Bermondsey Square, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Trencherwood New Homes”, Southwark: old oak

“Acorn Security Alarms”, Bristol: nutty bird

"Acorn Security Alarms" burglar alarm, Bristol • This Acorn was slightly easier to track down than yesterday's, but seems just as defunct. Originally a Gloucestershire firm, its URL www.acornsecurityalarms.co.uk now redirects to Swift Fire & Security, a national company founded in 1982 – which I haven't featured yet, despite it falling within the "arbitrary birds" category. So maybe the swift is a bird that eats nuts. • Spotted: Broad Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Acorn Security Alarms”, Bristol: nutty bird

“Thorndon”, Newham: tenuous thorns

"Thorndon Chelmsford" burglar alarm, Newham • Yet another variation on thorns, admittedly rather tenuous – but it's a nice old Eurobell box, and I have to feature these things somewhere! Essex-based Thorndon were formed in 1982, an era this sounder probably dates from – but I've seen plenty of newer ones too. • Spotted: Cooks Road, Newham, London, E15, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham
“Thorndon”, Newham: tenuous thorns

“Thorn”, Lambeth: white spike

"Thorn" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Speaking of thorns, as I was yesterday, here's the real thing – a red rose of a sounder sporting the modernist white spike of Thorn electronics. It's one of several variations on the red drum that have existed over the years, in this case notable for not mentioning either Minerva or EMI – see the comment here for the most comprehensive round-up so far. • Spotted: Hatfields, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Thorn”, Lambeth: white spike

“Shield Alarms”, Bristol: a hut made of arrows

"Shield Alarms" burglar alarm, Bristol • This is a bit strange – a shield decorated with a hut (or possibly a gate) made out of long skinny arrows. But it's from Bristol, and I've stopped being surprised by the weird sounder designs that emanate from that neck of the woods. For all I know, people in the West Country actually do live in huts made of arrows – which would presumably negate the need for burglar alarms. Although this sounder looks quite recent, of the squillions of Shield security firms on the internet, I can't find one matching this particular logo. • Spotted: Queen Square, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Shield Alarms”, Bristol: a hut made of arrows

“APT”, Herne Bay: circuit diagram

"APT" burglar alarm, Herne Bay • This has a logo of weird broken arrows which I can only assume refers to some kind of circuit diagram. Back in 2004, when I photographed this in Herne Bay, I later wandered past a junk shop which had the APT logo on its fascia. So, unless APT were combining security with a sideline in car boot sales, by that time they had either closed down or moved onwards and upwards. There's still an APT Security in Kent boasting 20 years of experience and a much smarter logo, so maybe it was the latter. • Spotted: High Street, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“APT”, Herne Bay: circuit diagram

“Young & Young”, Chelsea: shorn-off circle

"Young & Young" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Attempting to proceed logically through the uncommon shapes, yesterday's deep drum leads on to a nice silver box that's almost a circle, except for a bit shorn off the base. Whether there's a proper geometrical name for such a construct, I have no idea – "arc" doesn't sound right, so maybe it's a massive "segment". Whatever it's called, Young & Young are the only example of it I've come across on a sounder so far. • Spotted: Cadogan Street, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chelsea and Fulham
“Young & Young”, Chelsea: shorn-off circle

“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

“Wimpey”, Chelsea: not the burger chain

"Wimpey Security Systems" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • I came across this at Chelsea Reach, en route to explore the exclusive but tacky and depressing semi-gated community that is Chelsea Harbour (whose creation cut off to non-residential car traffic a very useful public road running behind the riverfront). It's an excellent old Eurobell sounder with a long-obsolete Wimpey logo – look closely, and there's a flash of lightning in the "C" of "Security". Presumably it hails from George Wimpey, who merged with Taylor Woodrow to form Taylor Wimpey PLC in 2007, but was the UK's largest private house builder in the 1970s – the same era as this alarm. • Spotted: Uverdale Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW10, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chelsea and Fulham
“Wimpey”, Chelsea: not the burger chain

“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

“Octagon”, Marlborough: one-sided

"Octagon" burglar alarm, Marlborough • An abstract octagonal eye for a company called Octagon, in a circular sounder. I bet they'd have liked an octagonal one, but to my knowledge such things don't exist. (There's an eight-sided box as sported by the Next Gen alarm at top left here, but being irregular it looks nothing like a classic octagon.) • Spotted: Town centre, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Devizes
“Octagon”, Marlborough: one-sided

“Raptor Security”, Aylesbury: stabby talon

"Raptor Security" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • I get the feeling I'm missing something here. What on earth is this nasty thing meant to be – a tusk, a fin, a hook? Given the name, it's probably a talon, the defining factor of a raptor. Thanks to the film Jurassic Park, the word is now associated with Velociraptor dinosaurs, but it was originally a term meaning bird of prey, or "fast predator". Which is obviously burglar alarm-appropriate, but this creepy image of a stabbily-drawn talon clawing its way out of a horrible hole is not a pleasant one. It's a good match for the feel-bad town of Aylesbury where I found it, though. • Spotted: High Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury Above: real raptor talons (photo by Josh Bishop)
“Raptor Security”, Aylesbury: stabby talon

“Orca”, Richmond upon Thames: burglar to gurgler

"Orca" burglar alarm, Richmond upon Thames • Whaaaat? A killer whale on a burglar alarm? This takes the sea biscuit. I was wandering through Kew at dusk once when I spotted this chap a long way behind a leafy wall. It is actually the least appropriate security creature I have ever seen, so I had to snap it – but the poor conditions led to this terrible photo, and I've never found another Orca alarm since, even though I went back to Kew to look once. I know Kew is by the Thames, but the vision of Orcinus orca leaping from its murky depths to drag an unwary felon down to Davy Jones' locker – thus turning a burglar into a gurgler – is just too preposterous to contemplate. • Spotted: Kew Green area, Richmond upon Thames, London, TW9, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Richmond Park Above: a real killer whale (photo by Dr Robert L. Pitman)
“Orca”, Richmond upon Thames: burglar to gurgler

“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

"BBB Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Lisa from The Simpsons once impressed infatuated thicko Ralph Wiggum with a card reading "let's bee friends" (pictured below) – which sadly, like the hopeless Ralph, I find incredibly funny. But it doesn't get to the tragicomic nub of this sweetly silly logo, whose deceptively jolly graphics mask the spectre of death: for to be truly effective, these cheery charging arthropods must surely forfeit their lives with their stings. A profound message indeed for a burglar alarm, and one that Shakespeare might have summed up on a greetings card as "To BBB or not to BBB?" • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: Ralph's bee card and a real bee (photo by Thomas Tolkien)
“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

“Essex”, Tower Hamlets: netted

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This seasidey sunbleached sounder looks like it's been caught in a fishing net. In fact it's another example of pigeon netting, necessary because the alarm resides in the same torrential guano zone as these revolting ADTs. The lovely old Essex logo looks like it pre-dates the chain-link example of a few days ago, but as you can see from the comment below I'm wrong: one of the company's head honchos tells me it's a later design. It's more attractive, but it's also a lot more violent: three immense curved sabres, enough to see off burglars and arial arse bombers alike. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Essex”, Tower Hamlets: netted

Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: last link

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This is my last locksmithery post for now, and I can't pretend it's been an rivetting theme. Some of the imagery has been quite nice, but I've certainly run out of things to say about chains. I found this in White Post Lane near Hackney Wick, one of the entry points to the Olympic Park. At the moment it's an area of picturesque ruins, colonised by artists' studios, and very photogenic; catch it while you can, because apparently it's soon to be as blandified as the rest of the new-build area. Although I haven't photographed many alarms actually in Essex (as I never seem to go there), I've got loads of from Essex Security Services, because East London is positively bristling with them. The firm's still going strong, with a very different design, but this is an early example – I'll be posting another, more violent, variation in a few days. Coming tomorrow: pigeon problems, principally poo. • Spotted: White Post Lane, Tower Hamlets, London E9, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: last link

“Apollo Eagle”, Tower Hamlets: moon lander

"Apollo Eagle" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This vintage sun-like yellow sounder is a great match for uber-deity Apollo, the powerful Greco-Roman god of the sun. Worshipped far and wide in the ancient world, Apollo was closely associated with light, music, medicine, poetry and much else, but wasn't linked with eagles until mere mortals headed for the moon (property of his sister, Artemis) a couple of millennia later. In 1961, NASA manager Abe Silverstein deliberately referenced the Greek god when he named the US space program Apollo; and on 20 July 1969 Apollo 11's lunar module Eagle finally deposited humans on the moon's surface, hence the immortal phrase "the Eagle has landed". Which may be the source of this space race-era alarm's name, though more prosaically, it's probably the result of a merger between two companies called Apollo and Eagle. • Spotted: The Oval, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow Above: When Apollo met Eagle on the moon. Left: a Roman statue of Apollo (c.150 AD) from the Ny Carlsberg Glypotek, Copenhagen. Middle: Buzz Aldrin with moon lander Eagle on the lunar surface. Right: the Apollo 11 insignia, complete with moon-landing eagle.
“Apollo Eagle”, Tower Hamlets: moon lander

“AFA Minerva EMI”, Lambeth: warrior woman

"AFA Minerva EMI" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This is one of only three burglar alarms I've found featuring women, the others being Siren and Liberty. Minerva was the multi-talented pan-Italian goddess of poetry, medicine, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic and music, but primarily of wisdom. Only in Rome was she considered, like her Greek prototype Athena, a goddess of war – an idea the Roman Empire exported, hence her regular appearance sporting helmet and spear, and her suitability for burglar alarms. In Britain she was conflated with Bath's local deity Sulis, and the famous thermal baths there are dedicated to her. Britain also has Western Europe's only Athena shrine remaining in situ, an extremely worn structure carved into the side of a quarry near Chester. Mythology apart, I'm interested in the big red drum, which is also associated with Thorn, on whom I wrote a corporate history here. I know Thorn were absorbed by EMI, who clearly took over AFA Minerva too. But though I've seen vintage sounders saying simply AFA, I've never seen one saying AFA Minerva without the EMI at the bottom, or a standalone Minerva alarm. I'd be interested to know some more about the histories of AFA and Minerva – perhaps one of the burglar alarm fraternity can shed some light on this. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Above: Images of Minerva – warlike, wise, and popular in Britain. Left: a no-nonsense, helmet-toting Minerva from the destroyed city of Herculanum, near Pompeii. Above right: head of Sulis Minerva found in 1727 in Bath, and now displayed at the Roman Baths there. Below right: Minerva's very worn-out shrine in Edgar's Field, Handbridge, near Chester.
“AFA Minerva EMI”, Lambeth: warrior woman

“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: snotty guano

"HSS Alarms Harlow" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Another weeping alarm, dribbling a snotty white trail rather than yesterday's tears of rust. I found it in a laneway off the Hackney road, but the colours and window grilles are reminiscent of a Hong Kong backstreet circa 1988. The pale streak looks like guano, but may possibly be the only clean patch on the grubby black-painted sweatshop wall. • Spotted: Pundersons Gardens, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: snotty guano

“Allied Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: John Mills

"Allied Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • After three days of dastardly SS alarms, time to wheel out the plucky Allied forces, doubtless led by Sir John Mills. This sturdy old Eurobell sounder actually does resemble some kind of ancient air raid early warning device, what with its giant front-mounted red bulb – the only one of this design I've ever come across. The Allied powers morphed into the United Nations at the end of World War II, and eventually their ex-foes, the Axis powers, joined up too. Axis would be a pretty good name for a burglar alarm, but so far I haven't found one. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Allied Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: John Mills

“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

“Yale”, Cambridge: an Ivy League pairing

"Yale" burglar alarm, Cambridge • This Ivy League pairing of a Yale in Cambridge is the last "Modernist" alarm for now. I'd intended to write up this theme with brief musings on stylish shapes and clean design, and instead got drawn into researching the fates of a tangled web of venerable old firms which became the global trading chips of late 20th-century multinationals. And it's not just the traditional UK brands that have suffered this fate: Yale is the US equivalent of Chubb, a storied name dating back over 150 years that's now in the hands of an overseas corporation. The company was started in around 1840 in Newport, New York, by Linus Yale Senior, an innovative locksmith of Welsh extraction. The family firm's future was assured by his brilliant son Linus Junior, who invented both the standard combination lock, and – inspired by a 4,000-year-old Egyptian design – the Yale cylinder lock, used to this day. I can't find much hard fact on the internet, but based on various Wikipedia citations and Yale's own multifarious sites, the timeline is briefly thus. Yale soon became Yale & Towne – Henry R Towne being a business partner – and expanded worldwide. Yale UK was founded in 1929 in Willenhall in the West Midlands, and in 1987 their US owner First City Industries Inc sold them off for $400m to Valor PLC, a long-established gas fire manufacturer from Birmingham (the UK Brum, despite the US spelling of Valor), becoming Yale & Valor. After various other corporate machinations, they were bought in 1991 by Williams Holdings, a 1980s conglomerate (a lumpy word for a lumpy business model) formed to snaffle up underperforming businesses; in 1997 they also snaffled up Chubb, so for a brief period the two historic names were conglomerate bedfellows. In 2000 Williams, now a trendy PLC, sold the Yale Lock Company to Finno-Swedish security giant Assa Abloy. Confusingly, Chubb's locks division also ended up at Assa Abloy, where they're now sold under the Union brand (another historic locksmith that got swallowed up); while Chubb's alarms division ended up at US behemoth United Technologies Corporation, where it's used as the umbrella brand for all the other security firms UTC has acquired. Assa Abloy still use the Yale brand, and – to return to my original idea of writing sweet nothings about design and styling – have created a rather beautiful identity. This shiny round yellow siren with its cleverly incorporated blue strobe is the best new design I've seen for years, its sophisticated curves suggesting a Modernist sculpture (Brancusi, perhaps). It's a true successor to the Modern Alarms "jelly mould" which kicked off this Modernist category, and a vast improvement on the fussy faceted gem-shapes of the last decade. There's also a wedge-shaped version of this Yale, which functions as a dummy box; it's OK, but – like a boring chunk of Cheddar to the siren's gleaming golden Gouda – far less attractive. Cheddar's actually tastier than Gouda, but we'll let that pass. • Spotted: Regent Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Yale”, Cambridge: an Ivy League pairing

“Thorn”, Cirencester: reassuring red drum

"Thorn" burglar alarm, Cirencester • There are two main variations of these reassuringly large red drums with their mysterious blue-black panel: ones saying Thorn, and ones saying Thorn EMI, which helps establish their date. This is pre-1980s, as it bears the stylish logo of Thorn Electrical Industries, named not after spiky vegetation but its founder Jules Thorn, a Viennese Jewish emigré later knighted for his philanthropic efforts (there are lots of Lords in burglar alarm land). From its inception in 1926 (the high days of Modernism indeed) until his retirement in 1976, Sir Jules grew Thorn from a specialist lighting company into one of UK's largest electrical businesses; but after his death in 1980, a familiar tale of deregulated slash and burn kicks in. The EMI merger occurred in 1979, then in 1994 the alarm division went solo again as Thorn Security Group, having been subject to a £38m partial management buyout (so being spared the hubristic noughties debacle of EMI's colossally debt-financed takeover by Guy Hands and subsequent seizure by US bank Citigroup – another fine British company lost). In 1997, Thorn merged with its two biggest rivals Modern Alarms and ADT to become ADT Fire and Security PLC, its familiar name finally disappearing forever. So, to summarise the red drums' design timeline: those saying simply Thorn are pre-1980s; those branded Thorn EMI are 1979–1994; there is also a version with a substantially different logo saying Thorn Security, presumably from the 1994–1997 post-EMI period; and Wikipedia reckons that although ADT replaced most of the famous red boxes after 1997, they also continued to manufacture heritage Thorn systems till quite recently, so possibly that included the reassuring red drums too. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
“Thorn”, Cirencester: reassuring red drum

“Modern Alarms”, East Grinstead: faded optimism

"Modern Alarms" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • This week I'm looking at what I think of as Modernist burglar alarms: those with an unusual rigour of form and branding. They are few in number, and seem mainly to have been bespoke designs for big companies. They also tend to be old, with minimalist design styles recalling the 1970s – before the sloppy post-modernism of the 1980s kicked in, and before purist geometrical boxes were supplanted by fiddly plastic faceting. So where else to start but with Modern Alarms, whose superb name and logo date from the mid-1970s, when the firm's boss, the late Dennis Smith, had it rebranded from Modern Automatic Alarms. It is housed in the classic Eurobell "coke cap" case, designed by Colin Marsh for the Middlesex-based company Scantronic, who specialised in mid- to high-end security equipment (thanks to Richard Wilson for that info). Modern Alarms went on to use a variety of other cases, but they were always of simple form, solid yellow, and with the logo unchanged and well-placed. There are plenty of examples still to be found around London (and doubtless elsewhere), but Modern they are no more: most are sadly faded and effaced, often resulting in wonderful architectural compositions lent a rueful irony by the sunny optimism of that now-decaying name. • Spotted: High Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Modern Alarms”, East Grinstead: faded optimism

“Bels”, Tower Hamlets: form follows function

"Bels" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A perfect example of form following function: a round case for a round bell for a company called Bels (I'll forgive that missing 'L'). Thanks to learned comments by Richard Wilson and John Durrant, I now know that these cases are called "sounders", that this particular shape is called a Eurobell, and that bells in alarms are considered very last century – which makes the bell-based relics still on display all the more charming. To deconstruct the graphics on this, one thing is puzzling me: what on earth are the funny round symbols at either end meant to be? They look a bit like screw heads, so I reckon the whole design is supposed to conjure up visions of a shiny 3D enamel nameplate. Which it doesn't. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Bels”, Tower Hamlets: form follows function

“Detection Protection”, Lambeth: dated doggerel

Detection Protection burglar alarm Lambeth 2009"Detection Protection" burglar alarm, Lambeth • What can I say? Like all the other detection themed alarms, dull, dull dull – and ancient, and faded, and cheaply done – exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to find in a road called Lower Marsh (believe it or not, there's an Upper Marsh, too). But at least it rhymes! • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Detection Protection burglar alarm Lambeth 2009
“Detection Protection”, Lambeth: dated doggerel