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Cobra, Southwark, 2012

“Cobra” burglar alarm, Southwark • And another Cobra, just its head this time. • Spotted: Druid Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey […]
Cobra, Southwark, 2012

Universal, Westminster: futuristic

Universal "Universal" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • And so we end this astronomy theme with another universe, this one at least silvery and a bit futuristic-looking. I wonder if those are meant to be tiny letter "U"s making up the discreet logo? • Spotted: Great Portland Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
Universal, Westminster: futuristic

Morse, Camden: sleuthing

Morse Security "Morse Security" burglar alarm, Camden • A giant felon's fingerprint on a shiny light-up bell box – how great! The name suggests the sleuthing of Inspector Morse, but of course also evokes morse code - which is a kind of computing. So I stand by including it in my maths theme. • Spotted: Greville Street, Camden, London, EC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
Morse, Camden: sleuthing

“GB Gratte Brothers”, Westminster: tube

G3 Gratte Brothers Security Management Limited "GB Gratte Brothers Security Management Limited" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I found this on Covent Garden tube station (note brown ceramic tiles). It seemed like a weird name, and I've never found any others, so I thought maybe it was a one off. Then the other week I saw a Gratte Brothers van going down my road – and thus discovered they are a major building services company. I assumed the logo said "G3" -  which it certainly looks like - so posted it in the "numbers" theme. Bur a commenter (see below) informs me it's actually "GB", which shows how important clear design is! • Spotted: Long Acre, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“GB Gratte Brothers”, Westminster: tube

“Rampart”, Oxford: battlement, surely?

"Rampart" burglar alarm, Oxford • This is more like it, a Rampart showing actual ramparts. Although to be pedantic about it, these look more like battlements or crenellations (aka the blocky bits on the top of castles through which to shoot arrows) whereas ramparts are defensive walls. This looks like quite a recent burglar alarm, but I can't find Rampart on the internet except on business listing sites – usually a sign that a firm doesn't trade any more. • Spotted: Park End Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“Rampart”, Oxford: battlement, surely?

“Premier Security Ltd”, Westminster: chillax

"Premier Security Ltd" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Phew, what a lot of different Premier burglar alarms there are. Finally, a whizzy silver one with faux futuristic lettering from the UK Prime Minister's home turf of Westminster. A new breed of Conservative premier, perhaps – the pseudo-modern kind that likes to chillax and LOL. • Spotted: Newman Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Premier Security Ltd”, Westminster: chillax

“Pizza Express”, Camden: pizza mind

"Pizza Express" burglar alarm, Camden • Even if the burglar alarm engineer moves slowly you'll get a meal pretty fast with this company. I'm rather impressed that Pizza Express have had customised sounders printed up for all their branches, and in posh-looking silver (well, chrome, or plastic or something) too. Not many firms do that. Pity you can see the unpainted patch behind it where they had a presumably non-pizza-branded sounder before. • Spotted: Parkway, Camden, London, NW1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Pizza Express”, Camden: pizza mind

“Abel”, Islington: glowing logo

"Abel" burglar alarm, Islington • A lot of pioneering British alarm companies were swallowed up by multinationals in the 1980s, but veteran firm Abel – like Banham, featured yesterday – endure. They were formed in 1965, and according to their website are now the UK's largest privately owned providers of electronic security systems. They certainly update their boxes regularly – compare and contrast the old red effort featured here with their current look, above. Utterly proprietary, it's a slim silver metal square with a die-cut logo that's illuminated from within, as shown glowing at dusk below. Slick! • Spotted: Upper Street, Islington, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Abel”, Islington: glowing logo

“Banham Security”, Southwark”: silver-grilled

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

“Next Gen”, Hackney: shiny Trekkie plug

"Next Gen Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • Half-way between the Secom and Ambush plugs, though with eight sides rather than six, this is another rarely-seen bell box shape that resembles a giant electrical plug. It would be quite attractive if the logo wasn't so basic, which is a waste of tasteful chrome. In its futuristicness, it can't help but conjure up Captain Picard and his chums from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In contrast, the Elstree-based firm's website has a brilliant stock photo of an old school "pantomime burglar" wearing black hat, gloves and goggles. Make it so! • Spotted: Hoxton Square, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Next Gen”, Hackney: shiny Trekkie plug

“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

“Briar”, Cambridge: bonkers but brilliant

"Briar" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Here's a newer version of yesterday's brilliantly bonkers Briar Alarm logo, with the two padlocks joined to make a more convincing B, less keyholey keyholes, and some superfluous streamlines around the edge. The words "Cambridge" and "alarm" have also disappeared, presumably – as discussed in other recent posts – due to the concepts of local offices and humble burglar alarms being considered outmoded by today's high-tech security practitioners (though customers may feel differently). It's still a classic, and as I commented in my essay on silver alarms, this super-shiny box makes even such a patently absurd monogram look stylish. • Spotted: Regent Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar”, Cambridge: bonkers but brilliant

“Blitz Security Group”, Southwark: shiny bomber

"Blitz Security Group" burglar alarm, Southwark • After taking yesterday's incredibly blurred photo of a Blitz alarm in 2002, I was always on the lookout for other examples, but never ran across any. When I decided to start writing this blog, I became so desperate to shoot a sharper version that I made a pilgrimage all the way back to the Surrey shopping parade where I'd originally found it, but the Blitz alarm was there no more. And despite an extensive exploration of the surrounding Old Coulsdon area, during which I snapped lots of other good vintage burglar alarms (to the understandable suspicion of several locals), I still came home Blitz-less. I assumed it was a small Surrey firm that had gone out of business many years ago, hence my failure to find one. So imagine my surprise when, a few weeks ago, I spotted a shiny new Blitz alarm just a short stroll from my home, in a road I visit practically every day. A brief recce turned up several more in the Waterloo area, which scuppers my theory that Blitz alarms only appeal in Conservative boroughs; but note that London SE1 is divided between Labour Lambeth and Lib-Dem Southwark, and so far I have only found Blitzes on the Lib-Dem side of the street – and they are in coalition with the Tories, after all. Blitz Security Alarms, meanwhile, have been upgraded to Blitz Security Group, and acquired a smart new design featuring the ever-trendy Cooper Black font. It's a very nice logo – even if it does conjure up images of a merciless fascist bombing campaign. • Spotted: King's Bench Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Blitz Security Group”, Southwark: shiny bomber

“Bell”, Borehamwood: not the Tory spin-doctor

"Bell" burglar alarm, Borehamwood • I'm not saying the town where I found this is boring, but there's a reason they call it Borehamwood. It's also a true blue Tory stronghold, which seems to be de rigeur for areas boasting these smart blue-and-silver Bell alarms. For that reason they always make me think of famous Tory spin-doctor Tim Bell, now Baron Bell of Belgravia (really), a founding member of the Conservatives' 1979 election-winning ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and the man credited with creating Margaret Thatcher's deep-voiced, iron-haired, pussy-bowed image. But even though he once led a company called Chime Communications, Lord Bell doesn't really have a connection with Bell alarms – apart from the fact that you will find them both in Belgravia, which is good enough for me. • Spotted: Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Hertsmere
“Bell”, Borehamwood: not the Tory spin-doctor

Silver alarms: the next generation

Burglar alarm colours: silver • Although I've come across the odd silvery box over the years, 2010 saw a notable trend for super-shiny silver alarms – epitomised by the aptly-named Young & Young and Next Gen examples. Long-standing firms are constantly upgrading to this look, for instance East Tower, whose clip-art Tower Bridge logo has advanced from kitsch to swish by swapping coloured plastic for a mirror finish; or Briar, whose bonkers monogram, a B made of padlocks, looks quite sensible now it's reflective. Silver is one of the few box styles that sits well with slick architecture – but if alarms were all to become this tasteful, I'd soon lose interest in documenting them. • Below: a selection of silver boxes, old and new
Silver alarms: the next generation

“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

GD Security burglar alarm"GD Security" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea, 2005 • Another smart royal blue silhouette, another Conservative borough: namely affluent Kensington, home to some of the most expensive property in the world, and where Madonna was burgled twice, despite having a burglar alarm. The initials are unexplained, but by having a fairly recognisable bulldog image above them, we're invited to surmise that GD stands for Guard Dog, though it could be Good Defence, General Dynamics, Gold Digger, God, or whatever you fancy. Google research suggests it doesn't actually stand for anything, but the firm was formed in 1984 – an excellent year for surveillance. • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington GD Security burglar alarm
“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984