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Triangular

Chubb, Lambeth, 2012

“Chubb” burglar alarm, Lambeth • Burglar alarms seem to attract sticker graffiti, so starting today, a catch-up of this theme. Balancing on a post near the Southbank Centre’s skateboard hotspot, […]
Chubb, Lambeth, 2012

Chubb, York: branding

NoName (Chubb) "Chubb" burglar alarm, York • And finally, to reinforce yesterday's point, another example of the classic blue triangle. This one's gone completely rusty, apart from its wee strobey hat  – but you can still tell it was a Chubb. How's that for branding? • Spotted: Stonegate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
Chubb, York: branding

Chubb, Bristol: triangularity

Chubb "Chubb" burglar alarm, Bristol • And here we have the ultimate in burglar alarm triangularity, the Chubb. I'm talking vintage Chubbs here, the kind with a sharp-edged metal box. and even a mini-triangle strobe on the top. It's a superb-looking design, but sadly  they tend to go a bit rusty... • Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
Chubb, Bristol: triangularity

Ghost under “GC”, Chelsea: comeuppance

Ghost under "GC Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • And now mighty Chubb gets its comeuppance, with just two measly corners peeking out from beneath a somewhat less venerable brand (albeit one boasting soundwaves – always a good point). • Spotted: Beauchamp Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
Ghost under “GC”, Chelsea: comeuppance

“Citadel”, Southwark: ghostly guardian

"Citadel Security Systems" burglar alarm, Southwark • The ghostly guardian on this is so worn out he looks like a marauding mummy or a giant robot (reproduced small), but the name Citadel suggests it's a Roman soldier. And the sounder's nearly as ancient as its source matter. • Spotted: Southwark Bridge Road, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Citadel”, Southwark: ghostly guardian

“Cherry Security”, Islington: ooh, fruity!

"Cherry Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Plant-based imagery is surprisingly popular with security firms, so this week's theme is botanical alarms – that is, sounders featuring fruit, flowers and trees. And what better way to kick off than with this juicy pair of cherries – an image so loaded with fruity connotations that I'm simply not going there. Instead I'll just note that the sounder is the same unusual design as the ESS box featured here, and that Cherry's website features more flashing emergency lights than the Old Kent Road on a Saturday night. • Spotted: Marlborough Road, Islington, London, N19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“Cherry Security”, Islington: ooh, fruity!

“Stew’s” burglar alarm, Margate: matey eco-shield

"Stew's Electrical & Security" burglar alarm, Margate • This would better belong with the shield forms at the beginning of my "uncommon shapes" theme, but it's a last-minute discovery and the only example of this box type I've ever found. It's also unique in being cheerily and possessively titled for the proprietor's first rather than last name. The box looks a bit like a cheap, upside-down version of this ESS enclosure – which, according to the commenters, was a chrome shield variation CQR Multibox. All Ramsgate-based Stew's matey details are on a large label, atypical for a sticker in looking professionally-designed. It features tiny icons of those popular security tropes lightning and locksmithery, plus an unusually harmonious (for burglar alarms) pale blue and green colour scheme, which wouldn't look out of place on eco-friendly washing powder. • Spotted: Market Street, Margate, Kent, CT9, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“Stew’s” burglar alarm, Margate: matey eco-shield

“DDD Fire & Security”, Hackney: illuminated wedge

"DDD Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • Morphing onwards from the last few days' triangles and shields, this is a flat-bottomed wedge that lights up at night. They used to be pretty rare, hence featuring here in the "uncommon shapes" category, though I fear they are swiftly becoming popular (fear, because they're impossible to photograph well when illuminated). In purely visual terms, they look quite effective and I prefer them to the chunky faceted "jewel" shapes of the last decade or so; however when I featured one recently, it met with a certain amount of derision from the commenters. As for DDD Fire & Security, they're a large Coventry-based firm who were founded in 1968, but their website gives no clue to what the memorable triple D stands for – presumably not a bra size. I've come across various "3D" firms – one stood for "Defend, Deter, Detect" – so maybe it's a variant on that, without the unhelpful connotations of coming third. • Spotted: Hewett Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“DDD Fire & Security”, Hackney: illuminated wedge

“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

“Tara”, Kensington: venerable green shield

"Tara" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Yet another take on the triangle, this venerable shield classifies as "uncommon" because it's used only by divisions of Banham, who must have taken over Tara at some point (they used to have really boring rectangular boxes with a very basic logo). You see many Taras in Kensington & Chelsea, so I liked to imagine the firm was named after some posh filly (eg Palmer Tomkinson) rather then the Scouse for goodbye – this one was even found in Cheval (ie horse) Place. But as pointed out in this comment, the Hill of Tara is an important Irish Neolithic site that was the mythical seat of Ireland's high kings – hence perhaps the green logo, which I'm rather partial to. • Spotted: Cheval Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Tara”, Kensington: venerable green shield

“Avon Security”, Bristol: round-cornered triangle

"Avon Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Avon calling: a modern take on the triangle, available with different-coloured surrounds. You don't see them that often, although it's a nice-looking design; however Avon have managed to take it downmarket with a basic, skew-wiff sticker. • Spotted: King Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Avon Security”, Bristol: round-cornered triangle

“Chubb”, Sheffield: rusty equilateral triangle

"Chubb" burglar alarm, Sheffield • After yesterday's unusual pentagonal Chubb, here's the classic equilateral triangle version. Not an uncommon design per se as there are lots of Chubbs around, but it's a one-firm shape, and the sharp-cornererd metal vintage ones like this are starting to rust into oblivion, normally from the bottom edge up – maybe the design causes rainwater  to collect there. • Spotted: Bank Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Chubb”, Sheffield: rusty equilateral triangle

“Banham”, Westminster: rockabilly quiff

"Banham" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This is the first time I ever noticed a burglar alarm adorned with pigeon spikes: it struck me as quite amusing, especially as Banham's shield shape looks like a head with a rockabilly quiff. It's in Goodwins Court, a really old-fashioned gas-lit alley full of bow-fronted shops – built around 1690 and little changed today – tucked away between the Strand and Covent Garden (there's a good article about it here). Predictably, it's now part of a Harry Potter tour, though it's not the original "Diagon Alley" – that's thought to be nearby Cecil Court, famed for its quaint non-virtual shops selling weird and wonderful (and stupidly expensive) old books. • Spotted: Goodwins Court, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2003 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Banham”, Westminster: rockabilly quiff

“Aegis”, Camden: magical fashion item

"Aegis" burglar alarm, Camden • "Under the aegis of" is commonly understood to mean "under the protection of", so like yesterday's Argus, this is an unusually sensible mythological name for a security device. In ancient Greece the Aegis was a protective breastplate or cloak, originally a thundercloud invoked by Zeus, and later the skin of a divine goat worn by his warlike daughter Athena. Her exclusive over-the-top haute couture version was a golden snakeskin extravaganza, generally depicted as covered in scales and fringed with tinkling tassels or writhing serpents, all fastened with the severed head of Medusa, the scary snake-haired Gorgon. The idea of the magically protective Aegis caught on and spread to Egypt, Rome and beyond; and 2,500 years later the Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace made his fortune by taking the Medusa-and-snakeskin look to improbable extremes, though it didn't protect him from being murdered on his Florida doorstep in 1997. The Aegis can also take the form of a Medusa-faced shield, so the shape of this alarm is very apt, as well as showing that Aegis is under the aegis of Banham, whose proprietary sounder this is. It's somewhat let down by the obscure Aegis logo, which is like a red pyramid with a lighting bolt through it, possibly representing an A and an E. But surely a severed Gorgon's head would have been better? • Spotted: Finchley Road, Camden, London, NW3, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn Above: The Aegis as hot ancient fashion item. Left: The classic over-the-shoulder Aegis cloak as modelled by Athena in a Roman copy of a Greek statue, "Athena Cherchel-Ostia" (c.400 BC), from the Louvre, Paris. Above right: the Aegis worn in casual cross-body style on another Athena statue, "Athena Lemnia" from the Staatliche Museum, Dresden. Note the Gorgon Medusa's head, a popular decoration appropriated 2,500 years later by Gianni VersaceBelow right: An Egyptian-style Aegis, on a Nubian bust of the goddess Isis (c.300 BC) from the British Museum, London.
“Aegis”, Camden: magical fashion item

“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

“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

“Chubb”, Hackney: the oldest brand of all

"Chubb" burglar alarm, Hackney • It's ironic that I selected this iconic blue Chubb box for its Modernist design, as it turns out to be the oldest brand name of all; and also, sadly, a blueprint for the decline of British industry at the hands of high finance over the last 40 years. The company was launched in 1804 by Charles Chubb, who started out selling ships' ironmongery, but moved into security when his brother Jeremiah invented a new type of lock. After gaining a Royal Warrant in the 1830s, the Chubb family enjoyed five generations of global growth, providing security for everything from the Crown Jewels to the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Winston Churchill's wartime papers. By the end of the 1960s the Wolverhampton-based company had swallowed up Rely-A-Bell and many other smaller rivals and was a respected bastion of British industry. According to ex-employee David Ibbs, the rot set in during the 1970s when Chubb damaged its finances by acquiring – under government urging – the failing Gross cash register business. And so, as the era of deregulation dawned, the weakened Chubb shifted from being a proud family-run manufacturer providing careers for life, to being the financial plaything of City moguls driven only by the bottom line. Starting with a misguided acquisition by Racal in 1984, Chubb demerged and remerged with other multinationals several times, "downsizing" (ie making skilled and loyal staff redundant) each time, and gradually splitting apart so that locks, safes and alarms ended up with different owners. Today, the alarms division is just a small part of American conglomerate United Technologies Corporation (UTC), while the other pieces are owned by Swedish multinationals. Chubb's last family boss, George Charles Hayter Chubb, aka the third Baron Hayter, was a highly-regarded Lords cross-bencher who tried to block Maggie Thatcher's destruction of the GLC, and once chaired the Design Council. Presumably his interest in design led to the 1970s introduction of this minimalist blue branding with its striking triangular box, known for obvious reasons as the "Delta". This powerful design has survived Chubb's many changes of ownership and lives on still, its current incarnation being a chunky-looking round-cornered Delta in posh navy plastic. In earlier times there was also a square blue metal box bearing the same logo, and I recently spotted a distressing new pentagonal variation. The example pictured here is a classic old metal Delta with faded paint and sharp corners, possibly dating from the 1980s. The (intentionally?) "chubby" initial C is, apparently, based on the front view of a mortice lock – a last poignant link to the glory days of the original Chubb brothers and their once-great British company. • Spotted: Kings Wharf, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Chubb”, Hackney: the oldest brand of all

“Capstan”, Kensington: not the evil cigarettes

"Capstan" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Because of their clinical 1970s-style design and a name recalling the fiendish hand-blackening Capstan Navy Cut Full Strength cigarettes still common in that era, I've always assumed these were quite old. The shield-shaped box also looks like the product of an earlier, more rigorous era; it's a design classic, but not widely used nowadays except by Banham. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that this firm is very much still in existence, and indeed has its HQ not far from my home. Unlike all the other outfits sporting "Modernist" designs, Capstan seems not (yet) to have been involved in a web of global takeovers; but it's still a long-established firm, founded in 1978, which may be when the design dates from too. Its restrained colour blocks are reminiscent of Swiss graphics, the sort of livery found on the pill packets Damien Hirst loves to use. He loves using cigarettes too, bringing me neatly back to Capstan Navy Cut – which, befitting their nautical branding, were notorious as the most tar-laden tabs on the market. These unfiltered beauties were once advertised to harassed mums thus: "When the kids are getting out of hand and driving you insane – Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Let Capstan take the strain!" • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Capstan”, Kensington: not the evil cigarettes

“Banham”, Kensington: the ponciest burglar of all

Banham burglar alarm, Kensington, 2010“Banham” burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea, 2010 • Unlike the shadowy intruder device, which is simply a generic silhouetted figure, pantomime burglars come in many forms. This refugee from Dexy’s Midnight Runners, on the venerable Banham shield, is by far the most poncey. Who does he think he is, posing in his fancy frame – a gondolier, a mime artiste, a strolling player, a jolly onion seller? He’s even dressed in golden cloth, playing on the beribboned motto “Another Burglar Foiled”. Banham knows it has a reputation as the posho’s burglar alarm, ubiquitous in London’s more gilded postcodes, but this is pushing it. He’s a burglar, goddamit, not a member of the Royal Academy. Interestingly (to some), this New Romantic-looking livery is a fairly recent Banham strategy; previously their alarms were of the minimalist typographic persuasion. From functionalism to frippery: it must be the way society’s going • Spotted: Cheval Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington Banham burglar alarm, Kensington, 2010
“Banham”, Kensington: the ponciest burglar of all