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Geographic

“Scamp Security”, Hull: odd acronym

"Scamp Security Hull" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • One red arrow pointing in, three green arrows pointing out – perhaps representing a burglar being caught by three scamps. Let's face it, SCAMP is an odd acronym, but the Hull-based family firm still exists, so thanks to their website I know it stands for "Security Control, Alarm Monitoring and Patrols". Or, in full, the double-secure "Security Control, Alarm Monitoring and Patrols Security". Apparently the company was established in 1962 and changed its name to SCAMP Security in 1986, but what the original name was isn't mentioned. Doubtless it was shorter. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle
“Scamp Security”, Hull: odd acronym

“BAT Alarm”, Birmingham: exploding arrows

"BAT Alarm" burglar alarm, Birmingham • Robin – the Bat Alarm! Actually this belongs not to Batman but to Birmingham Alarm Technicians, whose square box was featured in the creatures theme here. My blurred shot of their delta sounder gets a showing in this arrows category thanks to – of course – its exploding arrows, which look a bit like a rotated version of the somewhat dubious "arrow cross" discussed yesterday• Spotted: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, West Midlands, B18, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
“BAT Alarm”, Birmingham: exploding arrows

“Westronics Ltd”, Lambeth: space-age creature

"Westronics Ltd" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Finally, another un-nameable shape, which is a bit like the body of a sea creature, or less imaginatively a razor. Maybe the ascendancy of these rounded, amorphous shapes over the chunky, straight-edged forms of yore is due to the advent of computer-aided 3D modelling, something achievable on a laptop today but requiring NASA-like processing power not so long ago. The Berkshire family firm behind this box has appropriately space-age roots, having been founded in 1969, year of the first moon landing. That era is reflected in their logo, which I think is a condensed version of Blippo, a font from 1969 based on Bauhaus supremo Herbert Bayer's influential "Universal Typeface" of the 1920s. I note that Westronics no longer uses this design of sounder, as demonstrated by the up-to-date deltas on their official website here. However it remains the only example of this shape I've come across, and I end with it because it also pictures the next theme, a weapon popular with ancient villains and security forces alike – the arrow. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Westronics Ltd”, Lambeth: space-age creature

“Yale”, Tower Hamlets: humdrum wedge

"Yale" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Now come a few odd-shaped sounders for which I can't find the correct geometrical terms (because there probably aren't any). The hulking contraption above is the dummy box companion to Yale's round sounder here – though as I commented there, if that is a gleaming Gouda, this is a mere humdrum wedge of Cheddar. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Yale”, Tower Hamlets: humdrum wedge

“Cirencester Intruder Alarms”, Cirencester: oddity

"Cirencester Intruder Alarms" burglar alarm, Cirencester • Another square oddity, which reminds me of a 1970s clock radio – I'm loving the big blue bulb. The name conjures up visions of American secret agents rampaging round deepest Gloucestershire (which they probably do). • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
“Cirencester Intruder Alarms”, Cirencester: oddity

“Swale”, Southwark: bulky kitchen container

"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
“Swale”, Southwark: bulky kitchen container

“ESS”, Tower Hamlets: bottom-lopped shield

"ESS" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Here's a rarely-seen shape that's very similar to Banham's proprietary shield, but with the crucial difference of having its bottom lopped off. Although ESS is an unexplained acronym, l happen to know that this psychedelic soundwave design belongs to Essex Security Services, who seem to regularly update their logo and sounders – not to be confused with ESS (Electronic & Security Services) in Northern Ireland, or ESS-Security Ltd of Leeds. Not the most exclusive set of initials, clearly. • Spotted: Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“ESS”, Tower Hamlets: bottom-lopped shield

“Avon Security”, Bristol: round-cornered triangle

"Avon Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Avon calling: a modern take on the triangle, available with different-coloured surrounds. You don't see them that often, although it's a nice-looking design; however Avon have managed to take it downmarket with a basic, skew-wiff sticker. • Spotted: King Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Avon Security”, Bristol: round-cornered triangle

“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

“Granley”, Tower Hamlets: short and sweet

"Granley Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A very nice old Granley, with the kind of short and sweet (and therefore memorable) phone number we can only dream about nowadays, where BIS stands for for Bishopsgate in the City of London. To see more vintage alarms with three-letter phone codes, check out my Flickr gallery here – the photos were mainly curated from a Flickr pool called ONE TEL LET, featuring all sorts of objects bearing old-style exchange codes. It's full of fascinating photos (for those of a nerdy bent, anyway), and I recommend a look. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Granley”, Tower Hamlets: short and sweet

“AFA”, Chelsea: ancient takeover?

"AFA Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • This AFA alarm has the same phone number – CHA 2888 – as yesterday's Auto Call, and was found on the same bit of posh Chelsea wall, just round the corner from Harrods. Although like most AFA boxes it hasn't worn well, the design looks more recent than Auto Call's, so I assume AFA took them over. There's a really interesting comments thread about the company's long history below this AFA alarm, but it doesn't mention Auto Call, so if anyone knows more I'd be interested to hear it. • Spotted: Beauchamp Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“AFA”, Chelsea: ancient takeover?

“Security Centres (UK) Ltd”, Newham: Olympic cruelty

"Security Centres (UK) Ltd" burglar alarm, Newham • This vintage sounder doesn't exist any more, as I found it in a part of London that's now been completely torn down to make way for the Olympics. It's a bit hard to make out, but that's a thunderbolt piercing the portcullis – another popular alarm motif I shall feature one day. So not only will felons be brutally gated, they'll be electrocuted. Nice! • Spotted: Pudding Mill Lane, Newham, London, E15, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham
“Security Centres (UK) Ltd”, Newham: Olympic cruelty

“Pearl Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: faded attraction

"Pearl Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • What a beautiful old alarm, its evocative name recalling the faded fairground attractions of its home towns of Canvey and Southend, and matching perfectly the seaside-blue wall and decaying Dream Land awning. I've been parking beneath this sounder for years, as it's usually the nearest free spot to the Whitechapel Gallery, yet I never noticed it till the other week. The building's gaudy paint job is quite recent, so maybe that's what finally made it stand out. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Pearl Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: faded attraction

“Metro Security Centre”, Tower Hamlets: wide eyed

"Metro Security Centre" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I'm probably reading too much into this design, but I see it as one immense red eye with a staring black pupil, hence its inclusion within the "vision" theme. Although that would only work on sounders of this specific almost-eye shape, and most firms use a variety of box styles over the years, so I'm probably wrong. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Metro Security Centre”, Tower Hamlets: wide eyed

“Euroscan Security”, East Grinstead: plucky move

"Euroscan Security Ltd" burglar alarm, East Grinstead• Now, in the never-ending procession of eyes, I move on to typographic treatments. This one is quite clever, though invoking the continent is a plucky move in this swathe of deeply traditional stockbroker belt, which is represented in parliament by Tory grandee Nicholas Soames, the portly grandson of Winston Churchill. And referencing the Euro isn't exactly reassuring to anyone these days. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Euroscan Security”, East Grinstead: plucky move

“TecServ UK”, Nottingham: Freudian epic

"TecServ UK" burglar alarm, Nottingham • Dull though it may appear to the untrained eye, to the expert burglar alarm analyst this small device is a Daily Mail-esque Freudian epic. Clad in royal blue and English mustard with a modern yet understated font, it mixes trendy with traditional in a riot of symbolism: a padlock within a passionately flaming eye, a name suggesting service, technical prowess and patriotic values, and a sub-offer of fieriness and security. Surely the very model of a Femail reader's fantasy burglar alarm engineer – a Heathcliff of the sounder, a Mr Darcy of the bell box. Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it. • Spotted: Friar Lane, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Nottingham South
“TecServ UK”, Nottingham: Freudian epic

“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

“Wakefield Security & Fire”, Shoreham-by-Sea: surreal

"Wakefield Security & Fire" burglar alarm, Shoreham-by-Sea • A while ago I published an old Wakefield alarm with unfair accusations of sleepiness – so here's a more up-to-date example, which is very wakeful indeed. It's also one of only a four sounders I have found decorated with photographic images, the others being two birds and a chain. This looks like something out of a surrealist film, and is almost as unnerving as yesterday's creepy eye sticker. The firm's proprietor, in a comment below, explains that there's also a globe reflected in the eye's iris, though sadly it's not visible in this photo. • Spotted: Town centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Worthing West
“Wakefield Security & Fire”, Shoreham-by-Sea: surreal

“Swat Selby”, York: digital snooping

"Swat Selby" burglar alarm, York • Another mysterious SWAT alarm, this time with a bulb and a fancier "AT" monogram than yesterday's. I've been googling SWAT and still can't find out much about them: their website is just a holding page saying "coming soon", which could date from any time in the last few years. It bears this swirly "AT" rather than yesterday's clunky effort, so maybe this is the more recent alarm, though it looks pretty ancient. I came across quite a few old SWAT sounders in York, but no new-looking ones, so whether the firm still exists I don't know. I suppose I could ring the number on their website's holding page, but I haven't reached that sorry stage yet, so restricted myself to digital snooping. On one of myriad business aggregator pages (which is where businesses go to die) SWAT turn up on there was a positive review from 2010 – possibly an insider job – saying they were a long-established family firm. I also visited their address on Google Street View, but there was no sign of them there, although as it's a multiple-occupancy business centre, that doesn't prove anything. So all I have learnt is that Selby – which I had never heard of before – has an abbey, lies beside the River Ouse, and looks as if it's falling down. • Spotted: Grape Lane, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Swat Selby”, York: digital snooping

“Swat Selby”, York: mystery bird

"Swat Selby" burglar alarm, York • They like birds in York: yesterday a raven, today a hummingbird. Although the "SW" in "SWAT" suggests it's a swift. Or a swallow. Yes, I think it's a swallow – hovering over the badly-drawn monogram "AT" rather than a nest. In Selby. As swallows do. I wonder if SWAT is intended as a verb – as in swat all pesky burglars – or as an acronym, as in its original meaning of "Special Weapons and Tactics" (which would be rather exciting in smalltown Selby) or, more locally, "Selby's Wonderful Alarm Technologists"? All very mysterious. • Spotted: Low Petergate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Swat Selby”, York: mystery bird

“Falcon World Class Security”, Liverpool: stunted

"Falcon World Class Security" burglar alarm, Liverpool • I reckon this is a relative of the Liverpool falcon in a circular niche featured here, athough it's a slightly different design. "World Class Security" – I like the grandiloquence of such ambition. And it purports to be a registered trademark, too! Because there must be loads of security firms keen to rip off a logo that looks like a stunted griffin. • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“Falcon World Class Security”, Liverpool: stunted

“Southern Safeguards”, Brighton: safe-smitten

"Southern Safeguards" burglar alarm, Brighton • Another spread eagle, and even more bonkers than yesterday's: what looks like a Southern Bald Eagle smitten by a massive and badly-drawn safe, in a rather literal reading of the firm's name, Southern Safeguards. Not the newest of items, judging by both the naive design and the moss growing along the top. • Spotted: St George's Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“Southern Safeguards”, Brighton: safe-smitten

“Ram Security”, Reigate: angst-ridden

"Ram Security" burglar alarm, Reigate • A depressed-looking ram found on an old-skool corner cafe (actually called Corner Cafe, which is my idea of a proper name) in one of Reigate's less prime areas. Maybe it's protecting them from battering rams. Or maybe they sell battered rams. OK, it's a crappy joke. I wonder if the security firm's owner decided a ram would be a superb logo, so came up with the name "Reigate Alarm Master Security" (RAMS, surely) to match it? Or if the less-than-catchy name came first, then the boss thought, "Eureka! This calls for some clip art of a frowning uncastrated male sheep on my bell box"? I went back recently and the alarm's still there, but it's now so yellow and tattered that the ram looks positively angst-ridden. • Spotted: Dovers Green Road, Woodhatch, Reigate, Surrey, RH2, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Reigate Above: a real ram (photo by Martin Stoltze)
“Ram Security”, Reigate: angst-ridden

“BAT”, Birmingham: bloodsucker

"BAT Alarm" burglar alarm, Birmingham • I know this acronym stands for Birmingham Alarm Technicians, because I found the head office (pictured below) – but I still prefer to think of it as representing an actual noun-type bat. Not a baseball or cricket bat, useful though they would be for the deflection of unruly interlopers; but the flying, squeaking, sharp-fanged kind. Trained squadrons of hunter vampire bats could locate swag-toting Johhny Burglar by sound alone, disorient him with their hideous flapping leathery wings, give him a nasty blood-sucking bite, and pass on a dose of rabies for good measure. Result! • Spotted: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, West Midlands, B18, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood Above: a real vampire bat (photo by Barry Mansell)
“BAT”, Birmingham: bloodsucker

“Armadillo”, Brighton: abject but armoured

"Armadillo Brighton" burglar alarm, Brighton • I love this alarm. A completely abject-looking armadillo, mournfully slouching above some stylish compressed type. (Being an insect-eater, it is possibly pining for the fly on the Ape alarm, below.) I've found another one in Aylesbury, which is newer than this and uses the Cooper Black font above the same illustration; and a quick web search reveals that the doughty little fellow represents Armadillo Safeguards, a 25-year-old firm based in Sutton, Surrey. Comical though it may be, unlike many burglar alarm creatures the armadillo at least has some relevance to the security trade, as it rolls up into an impenetrable armoured ball when threatened – although its guardian credentials are somewhat hampered by terrible eyesight. It falls into what I think of as the "defensive" rather than "offensive" category of anti-crime identity – somewhat abstract distinctions I shall explore further one day.• Spotted: Eastern Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown Above: A real armadillo (photo by www.birdphotos.com)
“Armadillo”, Brighton: abject but armoured

“Globe”, Lewisham: wonkily cowering

"Globe Security" burglar alarm, Lewisham • What I like about this is the contrast between aspiration and reality (one of the driving factors behind my entire burglar alarm collection, in fact). The sounder belongs to proudly-named Globe Security, suggesting megalomaniacal international reach with its image of an entire hemisphere. And yet here it is, wonkily cowering in a back alley of Deptford, South London – not even armed with its own guano deterrent but lurking behind a filthy pigeon-spiked security light, and semi-obscuring a ventilation grille. Aah, Deptford: home to half the world's races, quite possibly, but hardly a glamorous hub of global domination. • Spotted: Resolution Way, Lewisham, London, SE8, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford
“Globe”, Lewisham: wonkily cowering

“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

“Essex”, Tower Hamlets: netted

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This seasidey sunbleached sounder looks like it's been caught in a fishing net. In fact it's another example of pigeon netting, necessary because the alarm resides in the same torrential guano zone as these revolting ADTs. The lovely old Essex logo looks like it pre-dates the chain-link example of a few days ago, but as you can see from the comment below I'm wrong: one of the company's head honchos tells me it's a later design. It's more attractive, but it's also a lot more violent: three immense curved sabres, enough to see off burglars and arial arse bombers alike. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Essex”, Tower Hamlets: netted

“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

“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

Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: last link

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This is my last locksmithery post for now, and I can't pretend it's been an rivetting theme. Some of the imagery has been quite nice, but I've certainly run out of things to say about chains. I found this in White Post Lane near Hackney Wick, one of the entry points to the Olympic Park. At the moment it's an area of picturesque ruins, colonised by artists' studios, and very photogenic; catch it while you can, because apparently it's soon to be as blandified as the rest of the new-build area. Although I haven't photographed many alarms actually in Essex (as I never seem to go there), I've got loads of from Essex Security Services, because East London is positively bristling with them. The firm's still going strong, with a very different design, but this is an early example – I'll be posting another, more violent, variation in a few days. Coming tomorrow: pigeon problems, principally poo. • Spotted: White Post Lane, Tower Hamlets, London E9, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: last link

“Wakefield”, Worthing: Sleepfield, more like

"Wakefield" burglar alarm, Worthing • Sleepfield, more like: this was found in West Worthing, which is even more snorey than its dozy neighbour "main" Worthing, mobility scooter capital of the world. Back in 2003 digital cameras weren't up to much and I wasn't taking burglar alarms too seriously, hence the extreme blurriness, but you can just about make out a chain containing the initials WSS at the top. I'd like to get a better shot of this, and Google Street View, though usually a couple of years out of date, shows it as still there. So maybe I'm in luck – assuming I can be bothered to go back to Worthing. My brother (who tweets very amusingly about the underbelly of South Coast life as @LordScumland) lives there, so maybe I will. • Spotted: Tarring Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11, England, 2003 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Worthing West
“Wakefield”, Worthing: Sleepfield, more like

“Mayfair Selby”, York: football fixture

"Mayfair Selby" burglar alarm, York • Here's an updated, unfaded version of yesterday's identity, with a double helping of chain-draped heraldry, and traces of a less curvaceous bell box behind it. It's still quite old, because the firm is now called Mayfair Security and uses a different typeface (Officina, font fans), though the shield remains. The wall behind the sounder is red because it's part of York City FC's stadium – a visit to which was reparation for subjecting my football-addicted travelling companion to endless bouts of burglar alarm photography (and the being shouted at that goes with it). • Spotted: York City FC, Bootham Crescent, York, Yorkshire, YO30, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Mayfair Selby”, York: football fixture

“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

“Lock-It Security”, East Grinstead: big-bulbed classic

"Lock-It Security Maidstone" burglar alarm, East GrinsteadEast Grinstead is just as excellent for ancient alarms as Old Coulsdon (well, both are in the Domesday book), and here provides proof that all-text alarms don't have to be boring by hosting this a lovely vintage box with a big red bulb and well-arranged type in one of my favourite fonts, Cooper Black. Which sounds a bit pathetic, but I'm sure other graphic designers will know what I mean. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Lock-It Security”, East Grinstead: big-bulbed classic

“The London Lock Shop”, Tower Hamlets: minimal

"The London Lock Shop" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This escapes the boring category of yesterday's alarm by virtue of being so basic it's practically a minimalist work of art (and in fact it does rather resemble a slogan piece by Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner). Appropriately it was found between two minimalistically-inclined contemporary art galleries, Herald Street and Maureen Paley. Both occupy ex-industrial units in the same gentrifying but still-gritty East End backstreet; neighbours include car workshops, small wholesalers, and a very noisy evangelical church, also in an industrial unit. In other words, a prime hunting ground for ancient sounders such as this. I'm often struck by the beauty of bricks when photographing burglar alarms, and am intrigued by the herringbone-textured ones behind this, which are of a type I haven't noticed before. I can't find any relevant info on Google, though I presume they're just cheap industrial stock – it's that kind of road. • Spotted: Herald Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“The London Lock Shop”, Tower Hamlets: minimal

“Briar Alarm”, Cambridge: bondage Abba

"Briar Alarm Cambridge" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Bonkers but brilliant: two sideways padlocks making an Abba-esque reflected B. The B stands for Briar, which suggests roses rather than bondage accessories, and could therefore more appropriately have been represented by a thorny B, evoking barbed wire as well as spiky stems. But that wouldn't have been as much fun as this surreal slice of locksmithery. • Spotted: Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar Alarm”, Cambridge: bondage Abba

“Peter Weare Ltd”, Dorking: new town verbiage

"Peter Weare Ltd" burglar alarm, Dorking • This is the most wordy alarm in my collection, stopping just short of giving the engineer's shoe size. Slotted within the essay is a key, and even that contains verbiage, with a "W" decorating the handle. The key itself is of the grand medieval type associated with castles and cathedrals – in poignant contrast to its distinctly humdrum place of origin, the unlovely post-war "new town" of Crawley. That's not to say Crawley is without interest: there's someone posting as ~notes and also *notes on Flickr who takes fascinating architectural photos of the area, including old burglar alarms such as Protectall• Spotted: Town centre, Dorking, Surrey, RH4, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Mole Valley
“Peter Weare Ltd”, Dorking: new town verbiage

“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

“Chiswick Security”, Hackney: hackneyed device

"Chiswick Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • Another key with an initial in its handle, though much cruder than yesterday's elegant example. The zig-zag notches on its blade suggest that, like the other keys featured so far, it is for opening a pin-tumbler cylinder lock, typical of house front doors. Inspired by 4,000-year-old wooden devices from ancient Egypt, the definitive cylinder lock was patented by Linus Yale Junior in 1861 and remains little changed to this day – a design even older than this alarm. • Spotted: Clifton Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Chiswick Security”, Hackney: hackneyed device

“Phoenix Security Doncaster”, Chelsea: rare old bird

"Phoenix Security Doncaster" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • A very old Phoenix, which – if it accords with legend – is the only one of its kind, and will soon set itself on fire. In the Greco-Assyrian myth which gives this device its name, the crimson-plumed firebird is the sole representative of its species, and lives for 500 years. When it feels itself getting old, it climbs onto a fragrant DIY pyre of frankinsence and myrrh, faces the sun and bursts exuberantly into flame, soaring reborn from the ashes. In some versions it's a small grub that emerges from the ashes, which after three days turns into a new phoenix; which, in further variants, carries the embalmed ashes of its parent to an altar in the Egyptian sun-worshipping city of Heliopolis. Although the estimable Greek historian Herodotus was bluntly sceptical about much of this fanciful tale, its clear parallels with Biblical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus made it a hit with early Catholic artists, hence its inclusion in European iconography, and eventually on burglar alarms. Generally considered benevolent despite their fierce looks, phoenixes are today a metaphor for anything that renews, such as a "phoenix firm" which declares bankruptcy, dumps its debt obligations, and restarts anew – hopefully not the fate of Phoenix Security. • Spotted: Cadogan Street, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chelsea and Fulham Above: Some even older phoenixes. Top row: during and after resurrection, from the beautiful 12th century Aberdeen Bestiary. Bottom left: Coptic Egyptian stone phoenix from the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam. Bottom right: a magnificent printed phoenix from Friedrich Justin Bertuch's stunningly-illustrated educational partwork "Bilderbuch für Kinder" (1790-1830).
“Phoenix Security Doncaster”, Chelsea: rare old bird

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“Hoffman Security PLC”, Hounslow: Dad’s Army

"Hoffman Security PLC" burglar alarm, Hounslow • I've included this nice logo in my World War II theme because not only do the arrows form a Union Jack, they look, coincidentally, very similar to the opening credits of the classic WWII-based sit-com Dad's Army, even using the same font (Cooper Black, as did the Blitz alarm a few days back). To be a PLC in the Public Limited Company sense, a firm requires a minimum share capital of £50k and must offer shares to the public, which is quite rare for a security startup. I became obsessed with finding out if Hoffmann really had been a "proper" PLC, and though there's very little on the web did manage to ascertain that it was a Middlesex company built up over 20 years by a guy called Erik Hoffman, who sold up to MRFS Group in 2006. However, the comment here informs me that Hoffmann, an Israeli, did indeed build up his eponymous business into a PLC, with a logo based on the joystick control of CCTV systems rather than a Union Jack. As for the much-loved Dad's Army credits (see the image below), they were in fact a last-minute compromise after the BBC objected to the original opening, which featured harrowing imagery of Nazis and refugees. The show's creators were very upset, but with hindsight it seems the BBC were right. • Spotted: Chiswick Mall, Hounslow, London, W4, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brentford and Isleworth Above: The Dad's Army credits featured British arrows retreating from Nazi ones
“Hoffman Security PLC”, Hounslow: Dad’s Army

“Churchill”, Camden: evoking wartime Winston

"Churchill Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Unlike yesterday's Union Jack, this has an unambiguously WWII slant. Churchill is not an uncommon name – there's the insurance company with the talking dog for instance – but even if Churchill is the surname of this firm's owner, the addition of a waving national flag can't help but evoke the legendary wartime Prime Minister, which is undoubtedly intentional. A Thatcher alarm similarly decorated wouldn't summon up quite the same subliminal image, and as for Blair Security, the mind boggles... though it would be amusing to discover one. • Spotted: Betterton Street, Camden, London, WC2, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Churchill”, Camden: evoking wartime Winston

“Britannia Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: pre-war

"Britannia Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Today I'm launching the theme that originally got me interested in the idea of seriously documenting and categorising burglar alarms, namely designs evoking World War Two in some way. The Britannia alarm shown here isn't specifically WWII-related, but the Union Jack-decorated letter B conjoined with a heraldic lion is certainly patriotic, and sums up the Fortress Britain (or, less kindly, Little England) mentality that seemed prevalent in the late 1990s when I first started noticing – and, not long after, photographing – these bizarre building adornments. This example is spruce and pristine, in what I like to think of as a "pre-war" state; but there are many more bruised and battered "post-war" Britannias to be found, one of which I'll feature at the end of this category. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Britannia Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: pre-war

“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: leafy glade

"Town & Country" burglar alarm, Great Missenden • A natural niche rather than an architectural one, this swathe of leaves is protecting an aptly-named Town & Country alarm (which has an excellent clamp-based logo that I'll feature in more depth another time). I found it in the chi-chi Chilterns town of Great Missenden, long-time home of author Roald Dahl, who now lies buried in the church graveyard (he's dead, obviously). • Spotted: Town centre, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: leafy glade

“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow

"Magpie Services" burglar alarm, Camden • Two security tropes for the price of one: a thieving magpie, and a garland of locksmithery (a subject I shall cover soon). I can't let my final magpie pass without remembering the rhyme famous from classic 1970s kids' TV show Magpie: "One for sorrow / Two for joy / Three for a girl / Four for a boy / Five for silver / Six for gold / Seven for a secret never to be told / Ma-a-a-aaaag-piiiiiiiiie!". Those too young to remember the tune can revisit Magpie's brilliant 1970s opening sequence, sung by the Spencer Davis Group, here• Spotted: Marchmont Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow

“Bluebird Securities”, Lewisham: a picturesque nest

"Bluebird Securities Crayford" burglar alarm, Lewisham • How picturesque: a fine yellow bluebird from Crayford, tangled in a nest of wires on the Ladywell Road. The old-style line drawing is far more characterful than yesterday's slick photographic bluebird, even though it could represent any blue or yellow bird really – a jay say, or a yellowhammer. Yellowhammer – now that would be a good name for an alarm. • Spotted: Ladywell Road, Lewisham, London, SE13, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford
“Bluebird Securities”, Lewisham: a picturesque nest

“Kingfisher”, Winchester: flying blue flash

"Kingfisher Security (UK) Limited" burglar alarm, Winchester • Yet another seemingly-arbitrary bird, the kingfisher's main burglar alarm credentials are hunting skills, feisty territoriality and the appearance of a blue flash as it flies (suggestive perhaps of a strobe, though this is a mite fanciful). It doesn't have an impressive cry, so its "siren" properties are not a qualification. However its main attractions are surely its attractive looks and name: the implied monarchy theme is ever-popular with security firms. The most interesting non-security fact I could discover about about kingfishers is that they have a transparent third eyelid and extraordinarily complex eyes, which work in two modes: sharply monocular in air, and blurrily binocular in water – all the better for spearing fish. • Spotted: Town centre, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Winchester
“Kingfisher”, Winchester: flying blue flash

“Thames Security”, Windsor: fierce royal swan

"Thames Security" burglar alarm, Windsor • Swans may look graceful, but they are fiercely protective of their nests and capable of breaking human limbs with the merest flick of a haughty wing (or so I was always warned as a child, when we lived next door to a swan-infested creek). This alarm has a posher location near the Queen's main castle at Windsor, which lies on an equally swan-infested stretch of the river Thames. Swans were once highly prized as game meat, and in the 12th century only the rich were allowed to own them; ever since then, the Crown has retained rights over all "unmarked" swans (ie those not owned by anyone else) in open water. In Windsor, this means the Thames, home of a yearly ceremony called "Swan Upping",  in which ridiculously-dressed men count the swans for benefit of tourists, and presumably to make sure none of the Monarch's birds get nicked. Thus Windsor, the Thames, swans and security are inextricably linked; and this burglar alarm is not as surreal as it may at first appear (apart from the giant floating T). • Spotted: Town centre, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Windsor
“Thames Security”, Windsor: fierce royal swan

“Frome Security Centre”, Frome: a duck enchained

"Frome Security Centre" burglar alarm, Frome • Frome (pronounced Froome) is an arty little Somerset wool town that was once a hotbed of non-conformism, and is full of interesting old architecture including a plethora of quirky churches and chapels. So, rather than have a fierce hawk or a wise owl on their burglar alarms, they have this distinctly non-conformist design – a wacky cartoon duck tethered to what looks like the ball-cock from a lavatory cistern, but is in fact a convict's ball and chain. Why the duck needs to be imprisoned, or what it has to do with preventing crime, is impossible to guess. It's just one of those whimsical West Country things. • Spotted: Town centre, Frome, Somerset, BA11, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Somerton and Frome
“Frome Security Centre”, Frome: a duck enchained

“Wessex Alarms”, Salisbury: an owl from Hardy country

"Wessex Alarms" burglar alarm, Salisbury • Wessex is the historical stomping ground of the West Saxons, a place name which long predates the invention of burglar alarms, if not owls. But although it is the sharply-drawn setting for Thomas Hardy's depressing bucolic novels, and sounds like a county to rival Sussex, Middlesex and Essex, in administrative terms Wessex doesn't actually exist. The proud name lives on, however, in the collective consciousness of a large swathe of south-western England, and is used to brand everything from radio stations to colleges to – as here – burglar alarms. Wiltshire, the "Wessex" county where I found this, is famed for its neolithic standing stones and bony, chalky hills – an ancient and mysterious landscape, at its most other-worldly by twilight. So a silhouetted owl seems appropriate, though being perched cutely on a 1970s disco-style logo somewhat detracts from the atmosphere. • Spotted: Town centre, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Devizes
“Wessex Alarms”, Salisbury: an owl from Hardy country

“Owl Alarm Systems”, Southwark: it winks!

"Owl Alarm Systems Westerham" burglar alarm, Southwark • Having spent the last couple of weeks researching the tangled corporate histories of modernist-styled alarms, I've decided to take things easier for a while by writing about birds. Our feathered friends are very popular on alarms, with plenty of hawkish hunters and thieving magpies, but many less obvious suspects too, such as ducks, swans and doves. Owls cover all the alarm bird bases: they're wise, they catch prey at night, and they're cute too. One of my favourites is this charming 1970s-style drawing reminiscent of the early work of illustrator Jan Pienkowski (famous for his Meg, Mog and Og kids' books). Brilliantly, the owl has got a little light in each of its eyes: if you look closely, you can see that the left one is lit up red, while the right one is off. It's winking at us! • Spotted: Sawyer Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Owl Alarm Systems”, Southwark: it winks!

“Yale”, Cambridge: an Ivy League pairing

"Yale" burglar alarm, Cambridge • This Ivy League pairing of a Yale in Cambridge is the last "Modernist" alarm for now. I'd intended to write up this theme with brief musings on stylish shapes and clean design, and instead got drawn into researching the fates of a tangled web of venerable old firms which became the global trading chips of late 20th-century multinationals. And it's not just the traditional UK brands that have suffered this fate: Yale is the US equivalent of Chubb, a storied name dating back over 150 years that's now in the hands of an overseas corporation. The company was started in around 1840 in Newport, New York, by Linus Yale Senior, an innovative locksmith of Welsh extraction. The family firm's future was assured by his brilliant son Linus Junior, who invented both the standard combination lock, and – inspired by a 4,000-year-old Egyptian design – the Yale cylinder lock, used to this day. I can't find much hard fact on the internet, but based on various Wikipedia citations and Yale's own multifarious sites, the timeline is briefly thus. Yale soon became Yale & Towne – Henry R Towne being a business partner – and expanded worldwide. Yale UK was founded in 1929 in Willenhall in the West Midlands, and in 1987 their US owner First City Industries Inc sold them off for $400m to Valor PLC, a long-established gas fire manufacturer from Birmingham (the UK Brum, despite the US spelling of Valor), becoming Yale & Valor. After various other corporate machinations, they were bought in 1991 by Williams Holdings, a 1980s conglomerate (a lumpy word for a lumpy business model) formed to snaffle up underperforming businesses; in 1997 they also snaffled up Chubb, so for a brief period the two historic names were conglomerate bedfellows. In 2000 Williams, now a trendy PLC, sold the Yale Lock Company to Finno-Swedish security giant Assa Abloy. Confusingly, Chubb's locks division also ended up at Assa Abloy, where they're now sold under the Union brand (another historic locksmith that got swallowed up); while Chubb's alarms division ended up at US behemoth United Technologies Corporation, where it's used as the umbrella brand for all the other security firms UTC has acquired. Assa Abloy still use the Yale brand, and – to return to my original idea of writing sweet nothings about design and styling – have created a rather beautiful identity. This shiny round yellow siren with its cleverly incorporated blue strobe is the best new design I've seen for years, its sophisticated curves suggesting a Modernist sculpture (Brancusi, perhaps). It's a true successor to the Modern Alarms "jelly mould" which kicked off this Modernist category, and a vast improvement on the fussy faceted gem-shapes of the last decade. There's also a wedge-shaped version of this Yale, which functions as a dummy box; it's OK, but – like a boring chunk of Cheddar to the siren's gleaming golden Gouda – far less attractive. Cheddar's actually tastier than Gouda, but we'll let that pass. • Spotted: Regent Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Yale”, Cambridge: an Ivy League pairing

“Detec New Romney”, Bexhill: nuclear quill

Detec burglar alarm Bexhill 2009"Detec New Romney" burglar alarm, Bexhill • The isolated marsh town of New Romney is more ancient than its name suggests, and I "detec" that this alarm's been around a long time too. Painstakingly drawn in scratchy pre-DTP pen lines, it combines the tropes of detection and tech in a naive 1970s blast of letters, as if radiating from the ageing nuclear power station at nearby Dungeness. The famous driftwood garden of overrated 1980s film-maker Derek Jarman is also at Dungeness, while Jarman himself lies long-buried in the graveyard of New Romney's Norman church. Unfortunately he doesn't add any circularity to my thesis, because I actually found this alarm in Bexhill. • Spotted: Marina Arcade, Bexhill, East Sussex, TN40, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Bexhill and Battle Detec burglar alarm Bexhill 2009
“Detec New Romney”, Bexhill: nuclear quill

“Detecta Link”, Lowestoft: Detecta Dull

Detecta Link burglar alarm, Lowestoft, 2007"Detecta Link Fire & Security Systems" burglar alarm • To catch a thief requires detection, and detection is by its very nature painstaking and procedural, but do alarms featuring a detection theme have to be so dull? The answer, it seems, is yes: and this snorey object is one of the more interesting ones, because at least it's a bit 1970s, and features sound waves. (In general, concentric circles or arcs seem to represent sound, rather than light.) There are duller to come. • Spotted: Town centre, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Waveney Detecta Link burglar alarm, Lowestoft, 2007
“Detecta Link”, Lowestoft: Detecta Dull

“Wilton”, Salisbury: half man, half wasp

Wilton burglar alarm, Salisbury, 2007"Wilton Alarm Services" burglar alarm, Salisbury • Possibly inspired by Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, what we have here is a creature half human, half insect, and all bonkers. Its nether regions are waspish, with a striped thorax resembling a pantomime burglar's t-shirt, while its back sports just one weird bubble-shaped wing. Atop this sprout the head and arms of a pudgy middle-aged man, bald save for a huge, lop-sided sprig of hair. One arm clutches an object (maybe a burglar alarm) saying "WASP" to his breast, while the other brandishes a fencing foil, presumably denoting the sting of justice. Grinning manically, he hovers like a drunken fancy dress uncle above the firm's logo – whose initials inexplicably spell WAS, not WASP, and are printed in blue and white rather than the more logical black and yellow. What a mutant fencing wasp has to do with burglar-catching is anyone's guess: I like to think the character was designed by the security firm's owner, in the colours of his favourite football team, and portrays himself. One of the craziest burglar alarm designs I have found. • Spotted: Town centre, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Devizes Wilton burglar alarm, Salisbury, 2007
“Wilton”, Salisbury: half man, half wasp

“Corinium Security”, Cirencester: shell suited shadow

Corinium Security burglar alarm, Cirencester, 2007"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 Corinium Security burglar alarm, Cirencester, 2007
“Corinium Security”, Cirencester: shell suited shadow

“DSA”, Bath: a bizarre Freudian slip

DSA burglar alarm, Bath, 2007"DSA Bath" burglar alarm, Bath, 2007 • At first glance I thought the creator of this otherwise basic design had included touches that were positively Freudian. A doorway with a swishy fringed curtain, conjuring up both sex shop and butcher. A prominent knob, its position implying the door is firmly shut. A shadowy figure grabbing for it: desperate for entry, or escape? A peeping-tom camera spying impassively on the proceedings. And under it all the word "Bath", suggesting a scene from Hitchock. Then I realised the boring truth: the swishy lines are meant to be waves of some kind, emanating from the boxy thing I'd assumed was a camera. What the device really is, and whether it emits sound waves, light beams, or death rays, is left to the potential intruder's imagination. But there's no fringed curtain, and no Freudian subtext. Not intentionally, anyway. • Spotted: Town centre, Bath, Avon, BA2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath DSA burglar alarm, Bath, 2007
“DSA”, Bath: a bizarre Freudian slip

“Warren Bannister”, Derby: Ena Sharples meets bulldog

"Warren Bannister Partnership Gloucester" burglar alarm, Cirencester, 2007 • Printed on what appears to be a photocopy, this label is peeling from an elderly alarm in the West Country, where life moves slowly. Thus, rather than snarling, this decaying bulldog has an expression of quizzical disapproval; he looks less likely to take anti-burglar action than to harrumph and go back to reading his Daily Telegraph (or maybe it's a she: add a hairnet and you've got a dead ringer for Ena Sharples). Design-wise, it's a rare example of a black alarm, and features enjoyably retro 1970s disco typography. Closer inspection shows that the doughty mastiff has the initials WBP emblazoned on his collar. It's meant to honour his ambiguously-named organisation, the Warren Bannister Partnership (one person? Two? A spy ring perhaps?) – but it's also just a slip of the tongue away from the acronym for waste paper basket. Which is where this old dog looks like he's heading next. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
“Warren Bannister”, Derby: Ena Sharples meets bulldog