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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

“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

“Clydetec”, Glasgow: fired up

"Clydetec Alarms CCTV Door Entry" burglar alarm, Glasgow • I've heard of the Red Clyde, but representing it with a house in flames? Not doing wonders for Glasgow's image, surely. • Spotted: Lynedoch Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G3, Scotland, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central Above: the mighty Clyde at Glasgow
“Clydetec”, Glasgow: fired up

“Assure”, Glasgow: foot guard

"Assure" burglar alarm, Glasgow • The correct name for these guys is Royal Foot Guards, and the Her Maj has four in front of Buck House whenever she's in residence (two when she's not). This one's lurking in a non-standard sentry box roofed with Assure's "AA" logo. Has anyone informed the Palace? • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
“Assure”, Glasgow: foot guard

“Slade Protection”, Westminster: glam rock

"Slade Protection" burglar alarm, City of WestminsterSlade! The mighty Slade! Every one of whom would make a thoroughly convincing glam rock burglar alarm engineer, with Noddy Holder as the affable Victorian-style gaffer. And their sounders would play "Cum on Feel the Noize". • Spotted: Great Portland Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster The mighty Slade
“Slade Protection”, Westminster: glam rock

“Shef-Guard”, Sheffield: local cradling

"Shef-Guard" burglar alarm, Sheffield • More giant house-caring hands: this pair is either cradling a family home or crushing Noah's ark. The local geographical reference in the name is nice – suggesting it's specifically the citizens of Sheffield whom long-established Shef-Guard have been shielding for the last 25 years. • Spotted: Norfolk Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Shef-Guard”, Sheffield: local cradling

“Ideal”, Westminster: mighty hand

"Ideal" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Now on to caring, sharing hands. This clever logo sums up the idea of protecting your abode most elegantly (unless you read it as a mighty giant smiting the house down) – and I always like the uber-positive term "ideal", conjuring up as it does the "ideal homes" of quaintly optimistic 1950s advertising. Not surprisingly, there are quite a few security outfits called Ideal; but the mighty smiting house-hand here leads me to the 30-year-old Southampton firm Ideal Fire & Security Ltd, whose website shows the same logo on their van. • Spotted: Tavistock Street, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Ideal”, Westminster: mighty hand

“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

“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

“Imperial”, Bristol: Ballardian Chinese take-away

"Imperial" burglar alarm, Bristol • Yet another Imperial, and though it looks completely different from yesterday's, I'm guessing it's the same firm in an earlier guise. It's most incongruous for a Bristol burglar alarm: a Chinese house against a big round moon, or perhaps it's a Japanese-style rising (or setting) sun of empire. To me, it can only conjure up JG Ballard's brilliant fictive memoir Empire of the Sun, based on his childhood in Japanese-occupied WWII Shanghai – and of course WWII is a popular alarm trope. But for a security device this is a very fanciful design, and one more suited to a Chinese take-away. Taking away isn't a good connotation for a burglar alarm, so I'm not surprised it got changed.• Spotted: Clifton area, Bristol, Avon, BS8, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Imperial”, Bristol: Ballardian Chinese take-away

“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

“APS”, Bristol: tangled metaphor

"APS" burglar alarm, Bristol • A tangled visual metaphor, for sure: a one-eyed arrow-shaped house, with another arrow for a nose, joined by a dotted line (or a very ill-advised facial tattoo) to some soundwaves coming from its single ear, which presumably represents this sounder. The typography is equally complex, with four different fonts, and even the box is an unusual shape and colour – the few other examples I've found have blue sides, whereas these are green. It's all very neatly laid out, and gives the impression that every detail was agonised over – all told, a most unusual sounder design. • Spotted: Corn Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“APS”, Bristol: tangled metaphor

“Securaplace Alarms”, Lambeth: graphics 101

"Securaplace Alarms" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This badly-drawn house appears to have a giant rapper's neck-chain dropped over it. Meanwhile the lettering breaks rule 101 of typography: don't use script fonts in all upper case. And definitely not vertically. All in all, not a triumph of graphic design. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Securaplace Alarms”, Lambeth: graphics 101

“Home Counties Monitored Security”, Islington: smug

"Home Counties Monitored Security" burglar alarm, Islington • This is a grainy digital enlargement, as the box was positioned high up on a block of private flats (you never see alarms on council flats). It's the most modern alarm I've found depicting a key, which means that in design terms it's old-fashioned. It's also the only key with flat teeth, denoting a chunky lever lock rather than a dainty but less-secure pin-tumbler one. Note also a little house roof over the letter "H", emphasising the "Home" in that smug term, "Home Counties" – where does that leave all the other counties, then? So, a paean to stolid home ownership and southern civic pride, on a supremely boring alarm. • Spotted: Crouch Hill, Islington, London, N4, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“Home Counties Monitored Security”, Islington: smug

“Hurleys Security”, Herne Bay: antarctic beach hut

"Hurleys Security" burglar alarm, Herne Bay • A seasidey logo for a seaside town, with jaunty 1950s-style lettering and what appears to be a beach hut in the key's handle. Some people may think of starlet Elizabeth Hurley when they see this logo, and some may wonder where the apostrophe has gone. I however am reminded of Frank Hurley, the brilliant Australian cinematographer who accompanied Ernest Shackleton's catastrophic 1914 expedition to the South Pole (although after a heroic journey Shackleton, unlike Captain Scott, brought all his men back alive). Hurley recorded all the stunning images of icy strife that help keep the legend alive today, and basically invented the Antarctic documentary – along the way being confined in various snow-bound shacks not unlike the one on the alarm. • Spotted: William Street, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“Hurleys Security”, Herne Bay: antarctic beach hut

“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

“TR Security”, Tower Hamlets: Grimm psychodrama

TR Security burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2010"TR Security Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This isn't a cartoon, it's a psychodrama. It's so troubling it reminds me of a Grimm's fairy tale, or one of those scary 1960s eastern european animations so brilliantly pastiched in The Simpsons as jerky cut-price replacements for Itchy and Scratchy. Let me describe the scene. The sun is high; the shadows small. A stocky, bizarrely-dressed man with the bulbous nose of a heavy drinker sprints across a featureless wasteland. In his white-gloved, malformed hands he cradles an intricate jewelled crown, the sort normally kept in a monarch's treasury. Peering over his shoulder, masked eyes glinting, he grins triumphantly back at the victim of his crown theft: a neat suburban house. A house that is half human. A house that is sobbing. Its sides heave with emotion, its door gapes in horror, its upstairs windows have become scrunched-up eyes squeezing out huge tears. By its side sits a writhing tangle of shadows, so dark it's impossible to work out what lies within. Maybe it's the house's existential despair; maybe it's the burglar's black soul; maybe it's just a bad drawing of a bush. But the moral is clear: don't store a crown in a suburban house, and if you must, then don't leave the front door open when there's a weird-looking bloke hanging round. • Spotted: Commercial Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow TR Security burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2010
“TR Security”, Tower Hamlets: Grimm psychodrama