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Decay

“Sentinel”, Hereford: shattered

"Sentinel" burglar alarm, Hereford • Same firm as yesterday, much older sounder. Presumably that bit of shattered electronics was a strobe once upon a time. The long-established firm is still around today in Hereford - you can see their current identity here, featuring the popular shield and silhouetted figure tropes.• Spotted: Town centre, Hereford, Herefordshire, HR1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Hereford and South Herefordshire
“Sentinel”, Hereford: shattered

“Securi-Guard”, Fowey: slimy shield

"Securi-Guard" burglar alarm, Fowey • So, now we move on to fortifications on shields, combining the popular tropes of militia and aristocracy. It's amazing the label in question is still attached, because this wins the prize for the slimiest burglar alarm I've ever found. It's on a wave-lashed quayside building in Fowey, Cornwall, famed for being a) hard to say (it's pronounced "foy", to rhyme with "toy") and b) where the novelist Daphne du Maurier lived. She wrote eerie, suspenseful stories such as The Birds, Jamaica Inn and Don't Look Now (all since made into scary films), so perhaps there's a giant pecky bird or stabby red-coated dwarf lurking behind that castellated wall. • Spotted: Town Quay, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of St. Austell and Newquay
“Securi-Guard”, Fowey: slimy shield

“Security Centres”, Islington: complicated history

"Security Centres" burglar alarm, Islington • I've already featured Security Centres twice in the lightning category, but I'm a sucker for decaying sounders, so here they are again with a very rusty portcullis. There's a slightly complicated history discussed in the comments here, regarding a 1980s UK company called Security Centres, who presumably installed this alarm, and also the vintage one here. They were then acquired by Modern Alarms, after which some ex-employees founded a Welsh firm called Security Centres (GB) using the same portcullis logo, as featured here, and are still going strong. Shows how popular the portcullis is! • Spotted: Wharfdale Road, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Security Centres”, Islington: complicated history

“CalQuick”, Southwark: grungy nut

"CalQuick Security Systems" burglar alarm, Southwark • Found in a crumbly Peckham arcade, this grungy old sounder features a splendid technical drawing-style monogram which resembles a wrench turning a nut. Unlike yesterday's firm, they managed to spell the word "Quick" right – then lost the plot with "Call".• Spotted: Station Way, Southwark, London, SE15, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Camberwell and Peckham
“CalQuick”, Southwark: grungy nut

“Royale”, Hackney: regal relic

"Royale Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • This looks around the same age as the preceding alarms, but it's so weathered it's hard to decipher the phone number. I could cheat and pretend it has a 3-letter exchange code, but in fact it doesn't: as far as I can make out, it says "Royale Security Systems ?? Benfleet 328?8". Benfleet is in Essex, near the Canvey HQ of the charming old Pearl box I featured recently. This competitor has fared less well, but I can see it once had a classic 1950s-style logo, and I reckon the casing started out as bright blue. I've done a Google search on the firm, but unsurprisingly turned up nothing at all, so any info would be welcome. Tomorrow: the new year ushers in more royal alarms, only somewhat newer than this one. Meanwhile I'll be down in beautiful Bristol, no doubt photographing yet more wonky West Country alarms and being forced to trudge the perimeters of various loser football grounds in recompense. Happy New Year! • Spotted: Shoreditch High Street, Hackney, London, E1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Royale”, Hackney: regal relic

“Enright Security”, Southwark: futuristic

"Enright Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • I've already shown a small version of this as part of a decaying duo on an old laundry, so here it is in close-up: a superb vintage sounder with a sci-fi eye pierced by a lightning flash. Mike Hardesty, whose company it was, explains in his interesting comments here that the firm was started in 1976, named after his partner Eddy Enright, and sold to Lander Alarms in 1982. The logo was meant to represent an electronic eye, and was designed by a customer from his previous company who was "a bit of an arty person". I bet he never thought it would turn up on a futuristic invention called "the internet" over 30 years later. • Spotted: Pages Walk, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Enright Security”, Southwark: futuristic

“GCD”, Windsor: punk haircut

"GCD Security" burglar alarm, Windsor • This sounder looks like it's got a punk haircut, and I like the way Thunderbirds-modern Eurostile font logo matches the cobalt sky. You don't often get days like this in England – apart from the burglar alarm, the scene looks more like Florida than Windsor. The photo was taken by a very patient burglar alarm-hunting companion, who's actually more interested in Neanderthals than burglars, and tweets about our ancient ancestors here.• Spotted: Town centre, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Windsor
“GCD”, Windsor: punk haircut

“AFA”, Birmingham: poo-brown paint

"AFA Security Systems" burglar alarm, Birmingham • A mournful corner of one of Birmingham's many surviving brutalist quarters, housing a poor old AFA alarm that's not only rusty, but effaced with poo-brown paint. Hardly worth protecting with pigeon spikes you'd think, but there they are in all their grimy glory, adding yet another layer of dolour to the scene. • Spotted: Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
“AFA”, Birmingham: poo-brown paint

“Rely-a-Bell” and “Essex”, Tower Hamlets: crowned

"Rely-a-Bell" and "Essex Security Services" burglar alarms, Tower Hamlets • Another striking composition from the endlessly-picturesque Petticoat Lane area, which is studded with vintage alarms. These have got two lines of defence: a communal half-veil of pigeon netting, and individual mini-crowns of pigeon spikes protecting their exposed heads. They're very well preserved, so it seems to have worked. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Rely-a-Bell” and “Essex”, Tower Hamlets: crowned

“Wilkin Alarms”, Sheffield: yellow peril

"Wilkin Alarms Sheffield" burglar alarm, Sheffield • The common theme of all these poo-struck alarms is the colour yellow, which perhaps in some mysterious way loosens birdy bowels. This virulent lemon example really does look like a piece of contemporary art. Which I realise isn't a great advertisement for contemporary art. • Spotted: North Church Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Wilkin Alarms”, Sheffield: yellow peril

“Intruder Alert” and “ADT”, Tower Hamlets: crusty

"Intruder Alert" and "ADT" burglar alarms, Tower Hamlets • This colourfully crusty corner is the sort of architectural detail that got me interested in photographing burglar alarms in the first place. There's only one kind of intruder causing problems here, and it's got feathers rather than a swag bag. Not to mention a very runny arse. • Spotted: White Church Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Intruder Alert” and “ADT”, Tower Hamlets: crusty

“Britannia”, Tower Hamlets: pigeon problems

"Britannia Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Birds are an extremely popular motif on burglar alarms, but there's one that never features: the pigeon (unless you include “Small Non-Feral Pigeon Security Systems”, aka Dove). Which is odd, because in real life pigeons adore bell boxes – the unsalubrious consequences of which we shall discover tomorrow. • Spotted: Bethnal Green Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency
“Britannia”, Tower Hamlets: pigeon problems

Nameless shipyard alarms, Glasgow: wrecked grandeur

Nameless burglar alarms on Fairfield Shipyard Offices, Glasgow • Yesterday's gritty scene was photographed en route to this, the amazing derelict Fairfield Shipyard Offices in the once-great shipbuilding area of Govan. A vestige of the industry survives: beyond these offices lies a vast BAE shipyard currently starting assembly of a leviathan aircraft-carrier for the Navy. Several random burglar alarms dot the Fairfield facade – there's a red AFA drum in the foreground of the top image, but most are nameless white shields. I was lucky enough to get inside the grand boardroom complex for an art installation (art can take you to some brilliant places), and despite being so ricketty we had to wear hard hats, its Edwardian splendour reminded me of the interior of County Hall in London, which briefly housed the Saatchi Gallery. There's a plan to restore the Grade A-listed building for creative and community use, a valiant but daunting task, even though it's only been unoccupied since 2001. I include the bottom photo, a detail of the main entrance, because of the beautiful mermaid carvings, which lead neatly on to tomorrow's theme: burglar alarms and mythology. • Spotted: Fairfield Shipyard Offices, Govan Road, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G51, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow South West
Nameless shipyard alarms, Glasgow: wrecked grandeur

“IME”, Glasgow: double jeopardy

"IME" burglar alarm, Glasgow• A shop with two names and two alarms. The grey Govan Pharmacy sign, top, looks decades old and may even relate to the original use of the premises. The brash Govan Carpets sign beneath it is obviously recent, but what riches lie inside to require not one but two burglar alarms I can't imagine. I went to check them out on Google Street View (below) but came back none the wiser, except that they used to have ADT alarms. The rest of the imposing but gritty street consists mainly of closed units, bookies, alcohol establishments and a very prominent funeral parlour. • Spotted: Govan Road, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G51, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow South West Above: the scene (shot some while back) on Google Street View – note ADT alarms and coverless bell box on the unoccupied left-hand unit
“IME”, Glasgow: double jeopardy

“Rogers”, Glasgow: fruity

"Rogers" burglar alarm, Glasgow • A swag of giant dusty fruit looms over a man in a very on-trend split pencil skirt, who seems to have attracted a fiery red friend – all of which I hope is not a metaphor for the Scottish national psyche (I won't dwell on alternate readings of the word Rodgers). The imposing russet standstone brickwork is a dead giveaway that this building is in Glasgow, which like all post-colonial ports is full of fine decaying architecture. • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
“Rogers”, Glasgow: fruity

“Thorndon Security”, Camden: typographic relic

"Thorndon Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Graphic design heaven: a load of decaying type on a wall. The numbers are a good old 1950s font, typical of that era when presumably there weren't many different styles of signage lettering to choose from. The alarm sports one big initial, a very common device, and one I'll return to. I found it in the gem-dealing area of Hatton Garden (famously featured in Dustin Hoffman's 1976 film Marathon Man) and, although legitimately photographing in a public street, got very heavily hassled by a security guard for my pains. That was just three years after 9/11, and it would probably be even worse now. It's actually quite difficult photographing burglar alarms –  it often makes me feel like a criminal myself! • Spotted: Hatton Garden, Camden, London, EC1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Thorndon Security”, Camden: typographic relic

“Cannon” and “BAC”, Bristol: changing faces

"Cannon Bristol" and "BAC Fire and Security" burglar alarms, Bristol • A Cannon alarm surreally framed by two laurel-wreathed romanesque heads on a typically splendid Bristol building, which was pretty grimy when I first came across it in 2006 (top pic). I went back recently to see how it had fared, and discovered a spruced-up facade, and a change of alarm (middle pic) – in pictorial terms, I preferred the old Cannon. The building itself (bottom) is magnificent and strange, and features another pair of heads on the right, depicting a veiled woman and a wild-bearded man. The building's current occupier, a hairdresser, is appropriate to the heads, but I'd love to know who it was built for: some Victorian business with links in Araby, presumably. • Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2006 and 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Cannon” and “BAC”, Bristol: changing faces

Nameless burglar alarm, Southwark: manorial cafe

Nameless burglar alarm on The Manor Cafe, Southwark • The alarm here , carefully placed above the street number, doesn't even have a name. But what a beautiful bit of decay! And a fine illustration of my contention, yesterday, that roads called "Manor" – here, Manor Place, in the lost triangle between Kennington, Camberwell and Walworth – are usually the opposite of their upmarket names. This entire row of shops later got boarded up with lurid purple hoardings, which are still visible on Google Street View; all that remained uncovered were a bookie, an off license, and the Sound Wickford alarm, far left. • Spotted: Manor Place, Southwark, London SE17, England, 2001 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Nameless burglar alarm, Southwark: manorial cafe

“Sentry Alarms”, Rugby: guarding Gas Street

"Sentry Alarms" burglar alarm, Rugby • An elderly alarm on a house that looks beyond burglary. This was found in the famous public school town of Rugby (birthplace of the boring game), where even decay in a road called Gas Street looks salubrious. In my experience, industrial sounding locations like Ferry Road, Electric Avenue or Gas Street always prove to be interesting; places with posh names like Manor Road are generally downmarket (there will be an example soon); and you can always park in Park Street. Fact! • Spotted: Gas Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rugby
“Sentry Alarms”, Rugby: guarding Gas Street

“MAS” burglar alarm, Liverpool: dirty great pile

"MAS Formby" burglar alarm, Liverpool • This carefully-placed burglar alarm is affixed to the great and grubby neo-gothic pile of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, one of two such religious edifices piously dominating the city's skyline, bookending the aptly-named Hope Street. It's the cathedral that doesn't look like a flying saucer: the one that does is for Roman Catholics. The reason it doesn't look like a flying saucer is because it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, grandson of high Victorian goth Sir George Gilbert Scott (there's an alarm on one of his churches here); and although responsible for the magnificently monolithic Battersea Power Station and its modernist ex-power station sibling Tate Modern, Sir Giles wasn't into sci-fi-related structures – unless you count the red K6 telephone box. The hulking monstrosity of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is not, in my opinion, amongst his finest works: perhaps because he was born a Roman Catholic. (I couldn't find an alarm on the RC Metropolitan Cathedral, by the way, though I had a good look.) • Spotted: Liverpool Cathedral, Cathedral Close, Liverpool, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“MAS” burglar alarm, Liverpool: dirty great pile

“Hoffman Security PLC”, Hounslow: cracking up

"Hoffman Security PLC" burglar alarm, Hounslow • Another alarm I've already featured in close-up (see WWII), but whose surroundings also deserve an airing. Nothing spectacular: just a subtle colour combination of faded pink, green and cream. Everything's cracking and falling apart, and even the 'g' has peeled off the sign. But that's sleepy Chiswick Mall for you (it's a demure riverside walk – not the kind of mall they have in America, or even Brent Cross). • Spotted: Chiswick Mall, Hounslow, London, W4, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brentford and Isleworth
“Hoffman Security PLC”, Hounslow: cracking up

“Javes”, Birchington-on-Sea: spider poo

"Javes Intruder Alarms" burglar alarm, Birchington-on-Sea • Rather than beautiful decay, this is colourful but slightly unpleasant decay. It looks as if in the distant past, someone attempted – god knows why – to decorate this rather old burglar alarm with a wicker basket and some dried flowers. Since then it has become a desiccated grime trap, festooned with cobwebs and spider poo (and believe me spiders leave a lot of poo: I have experience of this). Birchington-on-Sea, as its name suggests, is a seriously old-fashioned seaside town, the sort of place Miss Marple would have solved murders in the 1930s. So it's definitely a bit odd. But even so, this burglar alarm decoration is beyond bizarre. • Spotted: Town centre, Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, CT7, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“Javes”, Birchington-on-Sea: spider poo

“Advanced Security”, Bristol: Georgian splendour

"Advanced Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Advanced alarm, ancient door. Like the wall behind Knight in Kilburn, it wouldn't look out of place in Renaissance Italy, though it's actually next door to a decaying industrial unit on the edge of one of the grittier parts of Bristol. The holes on either side of the stoop perhaps once held railings, though I prefer to imagine them as Georgian twin cat-flaps, or plus-size burrows for Banksy's never-ending parade of graffiti rats (he does come from Bristol, after all). • Spotted: Surrey Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Advanced Security”, Bristol: Georgian splendour

“Crime Stop”, Hackney: crime start, more like

"Crime Stop" burglar alarm, Hackney • I've already featured a close-up of this red, drippy alarm under the theme The Law, but its environment is worth showing too. Did ever a door ever look less needy of a burglar alarm, and a "Crime Stop" one at that? Either the crime has already happened, or there's nothing worth nicking, and as for the surroundings – "Crime Start" might be a more accurate name. • Spotted: Downham Road, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Crime Stop”, Hackney: crime start, more like

“Chloride Granley”, Hackney: stencil graffiti

"Chloride Granley" burglar alarm, Hackney • Another study in London pinks and grey-blues, and a most unusual alarm. The logo Chloride Granley has been spray-stencilled, graffiti-style, onto an older Granley box, beating Banksy stylistically by some decades. Below it is some genuine modern graffiti in the form of a white arrow, setting off the alarm nicely (in the artistic, rather than the siren, sense). It's more normal to add a sticker when an alarm firm has been taken over, and this is the only stencilled effacement I've ever found; I'd be interested to know if there are any further examples around. • Spotted: Leonard Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Chloride Granley”, Hackney: stencil graffiti

“Honeywell Shield”, Hackney: faded colour field

"Honeywell Shield Security System" burglar alarm, Hackney • Yesterday I featured a knight, and today a shield: another very popular alarm device. There's nothing spectacularly decaying about this scene, but it's a study in faded colour; the rusty red alarm toning with the soft pink wall, set off against the flat blue-grey expanse of inscrutable window by bars of dirty white. Not for the first time when photographing burglar alarm tableaux, it makes me think of 1960s colour field paintings, or a print by Ed Ruscha. But I can't afford those, so this will do for me. • Spotted: Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Honeywell Shield”, Hackney: faded colour field

“Knight”, Camden: peeling Venetian violence

"Knight Security Services" burglar alarm, Camden • Yet another slice of the Kilburn High Road's architectural riches, this peeling, honey-toned wall would not look amiss on the medieval streets of Venice. Appropriate then that the nicely matching alarm is titled Knight, though its razzle-dazzle pink logo is more suggestive of a 1980s knitting store. The alarm has replaced a bigger version since the wall was repainted (some time ago, clearly); I like the way it's been accurately placed in the bottom left corner of the bare patch. Knights and their world of courtly, aristocratic violence are a hugely popular burglar alarm trope, and one I shall return to. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Knight”, Camden: peeling Venetian violence

“Rely-a-Bell”, Camden: biblical queen

"Rely-a-Bell" burglar alarm, Camden • After yesterday's burglar alarm on a George Gilbert Scott church, another piece of High Victorian Gothic, also on a biblical theme: Hephzibah was an Old Testament queen, though here she adorns a dusty shopfront on the Kilburn High Road. The glorious Italianate windows have survived rather better than the super-rusty Rely-A-Bell beside them, however. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Rely-a-Bell”, Camden: biblical queen

“Houseguard”, Merton: George Gilbert Scott church

"Houseguard Security " burglar alarm, Merton • Centred above the pointy window is a decaying head looking down at the decaying burglar alarm, which although it's on a church is called Houseguard Security. St Mary's was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, responsible for just about every Gothic Revival building in England, including the brilliant Midland Grand Hotel at St. Pancras Station, which has just been restored. The church is in wealthy Wimbledon Village, and in its graveyard stands the mausoleum of Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, who built London's grand Victorian sewers. • Spotted: St Mary's Road, Merton, London, SW19, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Wimbledon
“Houseguard”, Merton: George Gilbert Scott church

“SDT Securities”, Dorking: old-skool wiring

"SDT Securities" burglar alarm, Dorking • Another old Surrey wall, this time from the town of Dorking, an attractive place despite its dorky name and supposed boringness. The wall is festooned with cut-off wires and bird poo, and the alarm's logo features the old-skool device of a key – very passé these days. • Spotted: Town centre, Dorking, Surrey, RH4, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Mole Valley
“SDT Securities”, Dorking: old-skool wiring

“AIJ Security Centre”, Reigate: wonky lichen

"AIJ Security Centre" burglar alarm, Reigate • Despite having ancient roots, the prosperous Surrey town of Reigate is dominated by undistinguished architecture, a legacy of philistine planning. Yet amidst the sea of dullness remains the occasional interesting building, like this wonky old wall opposite a car park, melded in true Reigate style between two utterly suburban additions. Even the alarm box is growing lichen in protest. Older readers may be slightly interested to know that famed UK broadcaster Cliff Michelmore, who hosted the BBC's Apollo Moon landings coverage, used to live in this street. • Spotted: Upper West Street, Reigate, Surrey, RH2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Reigate
“AIJ Security Centre”, Reigate: wonky lichen

“Olympic Alarms”, Bolton: funereal moss

"Olympic Alarms" burglar alarm, Bolton • I found this mossy relic on a boarded-up Bolton funeral parlour called Shaw & Son, a decaying traditional frontage of great pathos. Appropriately, it was part of the same condemned hillside terrace as the weeping Computa-Guard alarms of a couple of days ago. Close inspection reveals that under the vegetation is a logo saying Olympic Alarms, but all things must pass. • Spotted: St Georges Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bolton North East
“Olympic Alarms”, Bolton: funereal moss

“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

“CG Computa Guard”, Bolton: weeping guards

"CG Computa Guard" burglar alarm, Bolton • A brace of elderly Computa-Guard alarms standing guard abreast a firmly barred window on a hilltop terrace of boarded-up buildings in Bolton. The futuristic name stands in poignant contrast to the rusty brown trails they are weeping down the walls. • Spotted: St Georges Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bolton North East
“CG Computa Guard”, Bolton: weeping guards

“Brocks Burglar Alarm”, Southwark: flame-grilled

"Brocks Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Southwark • Brocks was once a famous make of fireworks, and though I think the alarm firm's identical name is simply a coincidence, the beautiful moiré rust marks on this vintage example are certainly reminiscent of flame-grilling by a ferocious bonfire. • Spotted: King's Bench Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Brocks Burglar Alarm”, Southwark: flame-grilled

“Modern Alarms”, York: an ancient survival

"Modern Alarms" burglar alarm, York • Ancient and modern, in perfect harmony. The colours are as found: the once-yellow Modern box really has faded to the same sepia tones as York's venerable bricks. The constituency, meanwhile, is a tiny island of Labour red in a sea of true blue Tory. There's more on the history of Modern Alarms here• Spotted: Aldwark, York, North Yorkshire, YO1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Modern Alarms”, York: an ancient survival

“Windsor Alarms”, Camden: fan-shaped finial

"Windsor Alarms" burglar alarm, Camden • A lovely fan-shaped finial which is worthy, like the adjacent alarm, of genteel Windsor – but was actually found in hardscrabble Kilburn High Road, which despite its grinding traffic and endless parade of plasticky budget shopfronts is full of architectural wonders if you look upwards. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Windsor Alarms”, Camden: fan-shaped finial

“ARG Security”, Islington: bouquet of barbed wire

"ARG Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Echoing yesterday's imagery, another pointy roof decorated with barbed wire and a rusty vintage alarm, this time enlivened by a spray of weedy foliage and – for some reason – a string of giant fairy lights entangled with the wire. The building is a defunct garage, one of an ever-diminishing clutch of old-style industrial units in the rapidly gentrifying hinterland of Kings Cross. • Spotted: York Way, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“ARG Security”, Islington: bouquet of barbed wire

“Maxim” and “Enright”, Southwark: unusual old duo

"Maxim Burglar Alarm" and "Enright Security" burglar alarms, Southwark • Two unusual old alarms clinging beneath a crown of barbed wire on the charmingly-named Sapphire Laundry, which – as the bottom image shows – is of the same vintage as the alarms. • Spotted: Pages Walk, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Maxim” and “Enright”, Southwark: unusual old duo

“Ambassador”, Southwark: jewel-bright decay

"Ambassador" burglar alarm, Southwark •  To paraphrase the infamous Fererro Rocher ad, "With this dodgy old furniture shop, Ambassador, you are spoiling us!" I've never seen an Ambassador alarm that's less than weathered, but this one has a particularly fine setting, on the jewel-bright tiled pillar of this spectacularly ramshackle facade. It's at top right, tucked in beneath the fulsome Victorian finial's paint-encrusted cornuopia. London used to be studded with such gems, but the redevelopment mania of the last two decades has made decaying shopfronts harder to find. This one is near Tower Bridge, and seems to have had a new bit of board added every time I go past (ie once a year). • Spotted: Grange Road, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Ambassador”, Southwark: jewel-bright decay

“Lander Alarms”, Lambeth: sepia symphony

"Lander Alarms" burglar alarm, Southwark • Depending on how you look at it, urban decay can be grotty or beautiful, and I err on the side of the latter. I got into documenting burglar alarms via photographing old buildings, and there's nothing I like more than a faded, forgotten corner – which is of course the vintage alarm's natural habitat. This photo looks like I hit the "sepia" button, but the scene really was these colours – even the Lander logo had faded to brown. It's above an arch of the immense railway viaduct which snakes south of the Thames from Bermondsey via London Bridge and Waterloo to Vauxhall. A lot of the arches have become quite smart and trendy (no bad thing if you live in the area), but happily this backwater of Lambeth still sports some authentic picturesque grubbiness. • Spotted: Newport Street, Lambeth, London, SE11, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Lander Alarms”, Lambeth: sepia symphony

“Britannia”, Camden: proud and ragged flag

"Britannia" burglar alarm, Camden • I started the World War II category with a Britannia alarm, and I'll end with one. This is older than the first example, and being made of metal rather than plastic has rusted quite spectacularly. Ironically, the graphics themselves are more modern (in the design sense) than on the later alarm: a swinging sixties logo in strict Swiss graphics style, its restrained sans serif font stating simply "Britannia". The North London elements have reduced it to a sorely ragged flag, but it still has an austere dignity and is a fine introduction to the next category, beautiful decay. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Britannia”, Camden: proud and ragged flag