“Britannia” burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I prefer Britannia alarms that have union jacks or actual figures of Britannia on, like this one (which combines both). • Spotted: Great Peter […]
“Arbeia Electrical Contractors” burglar alarm, South Shields • Now for […]
“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 […]
“Tribune Security Alarms” burglar alarm, Cardiff • Looks like pigeon poo to me. • Spotted: Womanby Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10, Wales, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of […]
“AFA Minerva Thorn EMI” burglar alarm, Bath • Maximum name-ology on what I take to be a plastic drum box and therefore possibly early 1980s. An unusual find because normally […]
“AFA Minerva EMI” burglar alarm, Glasgow • Could this be the shallower “Mk 2” metal drum, ie lighter red and fitted flush with the wall? It was found on the […]
“AFA Minerva EMI” burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I take it this is still the original deep metal drum, as it looks exactly like yesterday’s box, but now multi-branded. These Minerva […]
"Cerberus" burglar alarm, Bristol • Weird blank arched alarm named after the three-headed guard dog to the entrance of Hades, also known as a constellation and a dark spot on Mars, amongst other astronomical things. There's a very tiny logo on there, but I can't work out what it is: it looks like a a book, a shield and a knight stumbled into the telepod machine that turned Jeff Goldblum into The Fly.• Spotted: John Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"Quantum Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Judging by the name, this is possibly meant to represent an atom. But it looks like Saturn, so I've included it under astronomy too. • Spotted: New Cavendish Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Saturn Protection" burglar alarm, Liverpool • On the mythology front, Saturn was an ancient and rather complex Roman god. However this design concentrates entirely on outer space, quite a lot of which has been crammed in: a magnificent section of ring-swirled Saturn, with a jaunty space probe bearing a tiny "S" logo circling it. It's possibly Pioneer 11, the first probe to Saturn. Excellent! • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
"Jupiter Alarms" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Large planet, though not red (that's Mars), so maybe the rosy blob is one of its 67-odd moons, the reddish Io. The planet is named after Iuppiter, chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras – he's often represented by a thunderbolt, also popular on burglar alarms. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
"Radius" burglar alarm, Lambeth • In classical geometry, the radius of a circle or sphere is the length of a line segment from its center to its perimeter. The name comes from the Latin radius, meaning 'ray', but also the spoke of a chariot wheel. And it's also one of the two sub-elbow arm bones, so called because it rotates around the other one, the ulna. Thanks, Wikipedia! • Spotted: Sail Street, Lambeth, London, SE11, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
"Abacus Integrated Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • Abacus seem to have had about a million different designs and logos, most of which I found studded all over a building in Kings Cross which has just been knocked down. This one looked like the most recent iteration – quite a change from the naive abacus A of yesterday. • Spotted: Britannia Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
"Abacus" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Today I move on to maths and computing with the oldest computer of all, an abacus – known to ancient Mesopotamians long before burglar alarm engineers got in on the act. Loving the way the A is actually made out of a (somewhat bead-depleted) abacus on this. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Quantum Security” burglar alarm, Camden • Basically a discrete energy packet, from the Latin for “quantus,” meaning “how much”. Although the logo looks more like the planet Saturn. • Spotted: Parkway, […]
“Securus Alarm” burglar alarm, Lowestoft • Great old sounder with a big S and a clever name: as well as sounding like “Secure Us”, Securus is also Latin for fearless, […]
"Optima Alarms" burglar alarm, Herne Bay • Presumably this is meant to suggest more Latin, ie optimus, from which we derive optimal or optimum – all words for best. Optima however is a typeface, though not the one used on this sounder. • Spotted: High Street, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
"Decorum Alarms" burglar alarm, Camden • Surely the most genteel name for a burglar alarm firm ever, and appropriate for the decorous Hampstead borders where I found it. Should belong in a posh little sub-genre with Kudos from Bath, which featured right at the start of this blog, and which has the same type of clock-radio-alike sounder. • Spotted: Finchley Road, Camden, London, NW3, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
"Status Alarms Coventry" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • Starting today is the essentially boasty theme of excellence - whether a self-proclaimed quality of the burglar alarm firm, or conferred by the bell box upon the client. In this case it's the latter: with this sounder, you will gain status. I once saw one on a Prince of Wales pub, which is an ideal site. You can also get light bulbs (the old fashioned energy-gulping kind) called Status, which - like a burglar alarm - is either on or off, I guess. • Spotted: Cook's Alley, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
"ATA Systems Protegimus" burglar alarm, Bristol • Not sure if this is related to yesterday's ATA – the trestle-tabley monogram's quite similar, if somewhat ambiguous as to whether it says AA or ATA. The surrounds, however, are vastly more intricate: a heraldic array of shield, crossed swords, scary cyclops eye, what looks like a maltese cross poking out from behind, and all supported with a scroll bearing the Harry Potteresque declamation "Protegimus" (we protect). Leaving nothing to chance, then. • Spotted: Nova Scotia Place, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"IDES Intruder Detection and Electrical Services" burglar alarm, Glasgow • The Ides was part of the fantastically complex early Roman calendar system, as in Julius Caesar's fateful assassination date, the Ides of March (aka March 15, 44 BC). Probably a coincidence, as this is an acronym for the firm's unwieldy full name, but enough to get it in the "Time" category. • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
"CPM" burglar alarm, Hackney • Not sure if this rather minimal logo is meant to be a clever play on "post meridiem", as in "see you in the evening", but I shall give it the benefit of the doubt. • Spotted: Curtain Road, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
"AM Alarm Maintenance" burglar alarm, Cambridge • An abbreviation for Alarm Maintenance, but handily for my "Time" theme, also shorthand for "ante meridiem". I'm also enjoying the sounder's black letter font and the frankly horrible colour scheme of the wall it's affixed to. • Spotted: Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
"Amco" burglar alarm, Camden • I suppose AMCO stands for Alarm Monitoring Co. But what of the Harry Potterish legend "Superna petamus", which doesn't, as the petals in the middle would suggest, mean "always flowering"? Well, the slightly different "Superna Petimus" means "We seek higher things", and is the motto of RAF Cranwell, where RAF officers are trained. This spelling, I think, means "let us seek higher things", and though AMCO's logo doesn't look like RAF Cranwell's coat of arms, it does resemble a British military badge. So endeth a super-category started several weeks ago, namely militia. And now, as Monty Python famously said, for something completely different... • Spotted: Goodge Place, Camden, London, W1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
"Nexus Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I quote from the University of Wikipedia: "Nexus is a connection, usually where multiple elements meet, as for example spokes at a hub, originally from a Latin verb meaning 'connect, bind'." Despite its classical origins, the word is kind of sci-fi sounding, which is why it's also been used in everything from Bladerunner to World of Warcraft. I don't know what connection that has to a shield with a crusader-style crucifix on it. • Spotted: Wrexham Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
"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
"Corinium Security Cirencester" burglar alarm, Cirencester • Just as elderly but somewhat less DIY than yesterday's Corinium sounder, this features a stern Roman legionary protecting the premises. In fact he's so grumpy-looking (see enlargement, below), you'd think he was stuck out on blustery, Scot-bashed Hadrian's Wall rather than in the softie southern posting of Cirencester. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
"Corinium Security Cirencester" burglar alarm, Cirencester • Corinium – it's the Roman name for Cirencester, don't you know. I always imagined Cirencester was some cowshit-strewn rural dump till I went there, then I realised it was really posh. I guess it got rich in Roman times, and stayed that way ever since. Hence perhaps their devotion to their ancient name. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
"Britannia" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • You'd think invasion was a bad subject for burglar alarms – let alone for a country – but both Britain and security firms seem to revel in our colonisation by Rome. Thus there are quite a few alarms on a "Romans in Britain" theme – or, as this one more accurately puts it, in Britannia. I prefer Britannia's older two designs, here, assuming it's the same firm. But thankfully they've retained the Union Jack (or Union Flag, as we're boringly supposed to call it these days), and are to be applauded for depicting only the fourth woman I've come across on a sounder. However Boadicea might have been better, as she at least tried to keep the Romans at bay.• Spotted: Strand, City of Wetminster, London, WC2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Senator Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Passing from ancient Rome to modern America, Senator is the most enduring political title of all time. Perhaps that's why this burglar alarm is marked, unusually, with a rather fierce-looking cross – to indicate a vote of confidence. • Spotted: Verulam Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
"Challenger Fortis Fidelis" burglar alarm, Bristol • OK, so this is a dull soapdishy shape. But it's the only version of this particular dull soapdishy shape I've ever found, and the logo's a bit of a classic – I always appreciate a shield and a Latin motto. Fortis et fidelis is a common heraldic phrase meaning "brave and faithful", "strong and loyal", or variations thereof; it's also a ridiculously overpriced brand of cognac. • Spotted: Small Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"Minerva Integrated Security Services Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • This is a very recent square design, so tasteful it resembles a Bang & Olufson speaker. At one point I thought such squares were going to take over the entire burglar alarm world, which would have been a bit dull; but they seem to have had their day already, and while not exactly rare, aren't a common sight either. I don't know if this firm is any relation to the venerable AFA Minerva of old – presumably not, as their website says they were formed in 2005. I can't work out what the jittery circular logo is meant to suggest, if anything – certainly not the Roman goddess the firm takes its name from. • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
"Swale Security Systems Ltd Aquila group" burglar alarm, Southwark • Eight-sided but not a regular octagon, this resembles a bulky kitchen container. I've only found a few of these ungainly objects, which are sometimes mounted vertically. Swale makes me think of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, but it's actually an area of Kent at the mouth of the Thames. Its main town is Sittingbourne, and that's where this firm was based, though I think it exists no more. Aquila Group describes itself as "a group of independent electronic security companies", which presumably swallowed Swale up. Their website has limited functionality, but there's a picture here of an Aquila sounder similar to the day before yesterday's heptagonal Servian. Then there's a German Aquila Group that has the same logo, but deals with giant cargo ships; and all sorts of international conglomerates and financial funds with a similar name, who surely have nothing to do with little Swale Security. Aquila is Latin for "eagle", and can refer to the Roman legion standard, a constellation, and Roman boss-god Jupiter's pet raptor (who in Greek mythology carried thunderbolts for Zeus), hence the popularity of naming for shadowy James Bond-esque behind-the-scenes organisations.• Spotted: Decima Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
"Servian" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Regular polygons aren't that common, especially heptagons – the only other similar sounder I've featured is here. Hampshire-based Servian's sterile lozenge logo reminds me of pharmaceuticals packaging, but the name actually recalls ancient Rome's burglar alarm-appropriate Servian Wall, a massive defensive barrier made from blocks of volcanic rock, which repelled Hannibal amongst others. So strong was it that some of the 2,400-year-old edifice still stands today, with a large chunk next to Rome's main railway station.There's even a bit, apparently, in the station's McDonalds. • Spotted: Pont Street, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington Above: ancient Rome, showing the Servian wall in blue, and the later Aurelian wall in red, plus an impressive remnant of the Servian Wall next to Rome's Termini Station.
"Gemeni Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • Finally, scraping the bottom of the zodiacal barrel, a very basic and mis-spelled Gemini alarm – unless I’m missing something, and it says Gemeni for good reason, eg it's written in Romanian. So we’ve had Gemini the twins not once, but twice – one boring, and one boring and dyslexic. Uncanny! That’s it for astrological alarms, just the four: Zodiac, Scorpio, Gemini and Gemeni. I have found no more, whereas there are scores of animals on burglar alarms, which share similar – if less mystical – iconography. As I pointed out in the Zodiac entry, that leaves a gap in the naming market. I hope someone takes it up – and remembers to illustrate it. • Spotted: Goswell Road, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Above: the constellation of Gemini visualised as twins holding hands (not the usual depiction, which is abstract – see yesterday), by the children's author H.A. Rey. Realistic!
"Gemini Security Systems" burglar alarm, Liverpool • Apart from the name, this is supremely boring – it could at least have included a picture of some twins. Astronomically, Gemini is one of the oldest-named constellations, dating far back into the Bronze Age and called "The Great Twins" by the Babylonians. To the Greeks they were the talented horsemen Castor and Pollux, who despite being twin brothers had different dads, meaning only Pollux was immortal; when Castor died, Zeus allowed him to share Pollux's immortality, bonding them together in heaven as the constellation the Romans called Gemini. Astrologically, it's the versatile third sign of the zodiac, ruled by fleet-footed messenger god Mercury. Gemini types are meant to be lively, inquisitive, communicative, inconsistent, and a bit unreliable – not all of which are useful traits for security firms. My theory for why Gemini is one of the few signs represented on burglar alarms, and a popular business name in general, is that Geminis are inordinately proud of their dual-natured and slightly annoying star sign characteristics. And, to prove my point, there will be another one along tomorrow... • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside Above: the not-very-twinlike constellation of Gemini as it is usually depicted, from the digital sky images at www.allthesky.com.
"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.
"Siren Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Yesterday I featured a mermaid from Fairfield Shipping Offices, Glasgow, and today – ushering in the theme of mythological burglar alarms – I give you a mermaid from Fairfield Road, London. Siren Security is a play on words, obviously, between the blaring sirens of the law and the sweet-voiced temptresses said to serenade sailors to their doom, but sirens and mermaids are not strictly synonymous. Though the word is Latin, sirens come to the modern world from Greek mythology: as described in Homer's Odyssey, written around 800 BC, they were winged, sharp-clawed bird-women who lived amidst the rotting corpses of their victims (which would certainly be a deterrent to burglars). The fish-woman comes from even older Assyrian tales of the popular sea goddess Atargatis (called Derketo by the Greeks), disseminated to seaports far and wide by Syrian merchants. Pagan Europeans got these ideas all muddled up with their own folkloric tales, not quelled by a dose of Christianity, so that today in many languages the word for mermaid is "sirena", or similar. In Haitian voodoo there is even a spirit or lwa called La Sirene, a European mermaid mixed up with West African beliefs, often pictured with a siren-like trumpet (see below for examples of all these ladies). Whatever her origin, Siren Security's logo is a charmingly modest mermaid, shown clutching an unidentified tablet – maybe the same one the bizarre wasp-man is holding on Wilton Alarms. And while there are plenty of of male images on burglar alarms, this is one of only two depictions of women I have found, the other being Liberty. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow Top left: "The Siren of Canosa", a Greek-style siren (note bird-feet) circa 300 BC from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain. Top right: John William Waterhouse's foxy "A Mermaid" (1900), from the Royal Academy, London. Below: a Haitian sequinned voodoo banner depicting horn-blowing water spirit La Sirene.
"Corinium Security" burglar alarm, Cirencester • An unusually athletic shadowy intruder in a pre-internet shell suit, performing Parkour across a DIY array of stickers in a manner reminiscent of the Milk Tray man. Most Corinium alarms feature elaborate classical designs (Cirencester, aka the Roman town of Corinium Dobunnorum, is that kind of place) – I'll get round to those later. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds