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Faded

LAS, Bath, 2011

“LAS” burglar alarm, Bath • AKA Lingfield Alarm Supplies Co Ltd, fact fans. • Spotted: Rivers Street, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath
LAS, Bath, 2011

NIS, Sheffield, 2010

“NIS” burglar alarm, Sheffield • Stands for “not in service”, maybe. • Spotted: Eldon Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
NIS, Sheffield, 2010

Masco, Lambeth, 2012

“Masco” burglar alarm, Lambeth • Here it is in happier days. It’s since been removed. • Spotted: Frazier Street, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Masco, Lambeth, 2012

APC, Southwark, 2010

“APC” burglar alarm, Southwark • A tiny faded diamond with an unexplained acronym. • Spotted: Abbey Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey […]
APC, Southwark, 2010

Alpha, Derby, 2010

“Alpha” burglar alarm, Derby • And now a very short run of Greek letters. Starting with Alpha, natch. (And still quite grungy.) • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1, England, 2010 […]
Alpha, Derby, 2010

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

Radius, Lambeth: chariot wheel

Radius "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
Radius, Lambeth: chariot wheel

AES, Lambeth: rocket

AES "AES" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Kind of a triangular stack going on here, like a rocket of initials with a blast of phone numbers beneath. Fanciful, moi? • Spotted: Secker Street, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
AES, Lambeth: rocket

“USA”, Southwark: speeding

"USA" burglar alarm, Southwark • This is incredibly faded, but I'm pretty certain it's a stylised world globe next to the initials USA. It is a skilled design which looks very familiar, suggesting it was "closely inspired" by something more famous, such as the iconic 1983 AT&T logo by graphics godfather Saul Bass. • Spotted: Rouel Road, Southwark, London, SE16, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“USA”, Southwark: speeding

“Absolute Security”, East Grinstead: bricky battlements

"Absolute Security (Surrey)" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Is it just my imagination, or are there a disproportionately high number of militia-related alarms in the deep Surrey "stockbroker belt" (quaint term in these days of rapacious bankers) of Dorking and East Grinstead? Whatever, this faded sounder showing two bricky little battlements was old when I photographed it in 2004, so I reckoned the company wouldn't be around any more. But an internet search throws up an Absolute Security in Surrey of 20 years standing, so despite a distinct lack of fortifications on their website, I reckon it's the same firm. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Absolute Security”, East Grinstead: bricky battlements

“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

“SP”, East Grinstead: caring mitts

"SP" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Poignantly faded in true seaside style, this shows a pair of sensitively-painted disembodied hands, in the manner of a Latin American devotional retablo, cupping the anonymous initials "SP" between them. It's an old alarm, and a minimal name to search on: there are quite a few SP security firms on various business directories, but I can't find one from southern England, so presumably these caring hands are defunct. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“SP”, East Grinstead: caring mitts

“Amega Alarms”, Oxford: worshipping hands

"Amega Alarms" burglar alarm, Oxford • These severed, supplicating hands look like they're worshipping rays of light, or catching a shower, but actually they're cradling a faded letter A. It belongs to Oxford-based Amega, a 25-year-old firm whose more recent boxes, featuring the same design, can be seen here. I've also come across handless sounders bearing the very similar name Amiga – as in the legendary 1980s computer – but I assume that's a completely different company. • Spotted: Park End Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“Amega Alarms”, Oxford: worshipping hands

“Thorndon”, Newham: tenuous thorns

"Thorndon Chelmsford" burglar alarm, Newham • Yet another variation on thorns, admittedly rather tenuous – but it's a nice old Eurobell box, and I have to feature these things somewhere! Essex-based Thorndon were formed in 1982, an era this sounder probably dates from – but I've seen plenty of newer ones too. • Spotted: Cooks Road, Newham, London, E15, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham
“Thorndon”, Newham: tenuous thorns

“Response Alarms”, Lambeth: convoluted tricorder

"Response Alarms" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Response alarms are always a convoluted shape, perhaps due to their solar panels. This old example looks like some piece of kit off Star Trek's USS Enterprise – a tricorder, perhaps – and is the only one of its kind I've ever seen. • Spotted: Cornwall Road, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Response Alarms”, Lambeth: convoluted tricorder

“Ambassador”, West Wycombe: stray Secom plug

"Ambassador" burglar alarm, West Wycombe • See how the shapes are moving on? Yesterday's was a slightly squared-off triangle, and now we're motoring towards full-on faceted sounders by way of a few "UK plug" shapes. This particular example fails on three counts: it's a dull shape, a faded logo, and it's shot at a bad angle. But I include it because this weird flat delta is normally only used by the Japanese security giant Secom. I have come across many older variations of Ambassador sounders (such as this), but only one like the example above. I'm assuming Secom took over Ambassador, rather than vice versa – unless Ambassador somehow acquired and rebranded a load of Secom's very recognisable covers. • Spotted: Village centre, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP14, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Wycombe
“Ambassador”, West Wycombe: stray Secom plug

“Aaron Hi-Tec”, Bristol: now looking sadly lo-tech

"Aaron Hi-Tec" burglar alarm, Bristol • To kick off the retro-futurist theme, here's an LED font that's obviously meant to look high tech (after all, it says so in the name), but is now definitely vieux chapeau. I've recently featured an oval Aaron sounder, but this one's much older, and its decay adds still further to the retro-futurist poignancy. To be fair, the style of Aaron's LED text is a bit more modern than the seven-segment display on yesterday's Monarch, and you still see this kind of scrolling display on everything from bus stops to billboards. It's just not very high tech, that's all. • Spotted: Jubilee Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Aaron Hi-Tec”, Bristol: now looking sadly lo-tech

“Monarch”, Lambeth: dribbly digital throwback

"Monarch Security Services" burglar alarm, Lambeth • I started the royalty theme with a Monarch, so I'll end with one. I don't know if this is the same firm, and as it's long pre-internet I can't find out, but it's the most sorry example of a regal alarm so far – faded and dribbly and with a design that makes no reference to the lofty name. Instead, it's in a style that's come to be known as "retro-futurism", that is to say designs which were originally an attempt to look futuristic but now look poignantly dated – like this alarm's imitation seven-segment LED font, recalling the days when pocket calculators cost 200 quid. With renewed interest in film cameras, vinyl records and 8-bit video games, retro-futurism is much in vogue these days. I'd hate to see burglar alarms left out of a fashion craze, so coming next... retro-futurism! • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Monarch”, Lambeth: dribbly digital throwback

“Regal Security Systems”, Hackney: missing monarch

"Regal Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • Yesterday I posted a Regal sticker, and today here's an actual sounder, of the classic 1980s design that looks like a clock-radio when mounted horizontally. I've searched for this firm on the internet but turned up nothing whatsoever, so presumably they were bought out before the world wide web got popular. Which means I will never get to find out what the big fat "W" in the logo stands for – and whether it's meant to resemble a crown. (Update: if you check the comment below and here, the mystery is solved –  Regal was originally Wimpey, and in 2001 sold out to ADT. Which makes it surprising I couldn't track down any info on Google, because 2001 isn't that long ago.) • Spotted: Hackney area, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Regal Security Systems”, Hackney: missing monarch

“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

"Crown" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I debated whether to put this in, because it's almost the same as yesterday's, and I said my somewhat irascible piece about crowns then. However, at the risk of being hoist by my own anti-History Channel petard, this is a sad example of how burglar alarm design degenerated from its glory days of sturdy metal boxes and proud ridged roundels to the tacky, plasticky nothings that booted them out. Look how much worse this weedy update has worn and faded than yesterday's fine original. And as for the bland corporate font – it doesn't even conjure up the Nazis! And what kind of a sorry excuse for a burglar alarm is that? • Spotted: Horseferry Road, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

“Alarm Systems Torquay”, Bath: hydrant sign

"Alarm Systems Torquay" burglar alarm, Bath • This looks like the miniaturised eye from yesterday's odd alarm, staring out from one of those yellow H signs signifying a fire hydrant (see below). It could be a black magic symbol, but it's more likely to be a monogram – saying H, OH, HI or even OHI – but with a sounder this old there's no info to be found. • Spotted: George Street, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath Above: a fire hydrant sign (photo by Bishty)
“Alarm Systems Torquay”, Bath: hydrant sign

“Mayfair Selby” label, York: faded chains

"Mayfair Selby" label on "York Alarm Centre" burglar alarm, York • Now we move from locks to chains, of which this is a particularly heraldic example. It once said Mayfair Selby, though the red text has long ago faded away; and by the magic of Photoshop, I have also discovered that the alarm underneath says York Alarm Centre, which presumably exists no more. A security system palimpsest, if you will. • Spotted: Shipton Street, York, Yorkshire, YO30, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Mayfair Selby” label, York: faded chains

“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

“Churchill Security Systems”, Old Coulsdon: faded flag

"Churchill Security Systems" burglar alarm, Old Coulsdon • A couple of weeks ago I featured an older Churchill alarm in much better condition. And now, at the end of my World War II series, here's a more recent Churchill sounder looking distinctly the worse for wear. It was found on that cliche of English suburbia, a half-timbered Tudorbethan villa (pictured below), always enjoyable in conjunction with overtly patriotic alarms. The flag still stands proudly, but the red of the Union Jack has faded away – much like the real Churchill, who was unceremoniously booted out of office as soon as WWII ended. • Spotted: Coulsdon Road, Old Coulsdon, Surrey, CR5, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Croydon South Above: The flag-waving Churchill in its splendid Tudorbethan setting
“Churchill Security Systems”, Old Coulsdon: faded flag

“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

“Detection Protection”, Lambeth: dated doggerel

Detection Protection burglar alarm Lambeth 2009"Detection Protection" burglar alarm, Lambeth • What can I say? Like all the other detection themed alarms, dull, dull dull – and ancient, and faded, and cheaply done – exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to find in a road called Lower Marsh (believe it or not, there's an Upper Marsh, too). But at least it rhymes! • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Detection Protection burglar alarm Lambeth 2009
“Detection Protection”, Lambeth: dated doggerel

“Crimefighter”, Whitstable: “Shut it, you slaaaag!”

Crime Fighter burglar alarm, Whitstable, 2002“Crimefighter” burglar alarm, Whitstable • There's a nice 1970s feel to this, perhaps inspired by seminal TV cop show The Sweeney – though it’s not clear whether the fist represents a window-smashing felon, or a big fat punch from the long arm of the law. I prefer to think it's the latter, accompanied by Regan and Carter's immortal phrase: "Shut it, you slaaaaag!" • Spotted: Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent, CT5, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Canterbury Crime Fighter burglar alarm, Whitstable, 2002
“Crimefighter”, Whitstable: “Shut it, you slaaaag!”

“RH Alarms”, Frome: faded felon

RH Alarms burglar alarm (faded), Frome, 2008"RH Alarms" burglar alarm (faded), Frome, 2008 • The ultimate in anonymous intruders: a burglar so bleached that only his generic silhouette remains. With a bit of tweaking in Photoshop, it is possible to discover the logo "RH Alarms" – a suitably uninformative name. • Spotted: Town centre, Frome, Somerset, BA11, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Somerton and Frome RH Alarms burglar alarm (faded), Frome, 2008
“RH Alarms”, Frome: faded felon