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Locksmithery

SOS, Glasgow, 2010

“SOS” burglar alarm, Glasgow • Looks like they blanked out something above the padlock shield. There’s another, earlier-looking version here. • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • […]
SOS, Glasgow, 2010

AES, Islington, 2012

“AES” burglar alarm, Islington • There’s a rectangular, less dirty one here. • Spotted: York Way, Islington, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and […]
AES, Islington, 2012

Modern Alarms, Camden: algae

Modern Alarms "Modern Alarms" burglar alarm, Camden • As you can see, I'm posting a run of these clear-capped Eurobells at the moment. Not only does this have the logo both above and below the lid, there's a circuit board and an algae farm sandwiched between them, which is somewhat distracting. • Spotted: Frognal Way, Camden, London, NW3, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
Modern Alarms, Camden: algae

Safe and Secure, Cardiff: bike lock

Safe and Secure "Safe and Secure" burglar alarm, Cardiff • I always like a Welsh burglar alarm. No idea what the shape surrounding the logo is meant to suggest,  although it looks a bit like a bike lock. • Spotted: St Mary Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10, Wales, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Cardiff Central
Safe and Secure, Cardiff: bike lock

K.I.S., Bristol: wonky

K.I.S Key Integrated Systems "K.I.S. Key Integrated Systems" burglar alarm, Bristol • Wonky star in background, for no apparent reason. • Spotted: Royal Oak Avenue, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
K.I.S., Bristol: wonky

PC, Stratford-upon-Avon: minimalist

PC HenleySt StratfordUponAvon nr CV37 6PT 20029_800 "PC Security" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • Three popular security tropes in one minimalist logo: police and thieves, locksmithery, and of course computers. I think we can leave political correctness out of it.  • Spotted: Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
PC, Stratford-upon-Avon: minimalist

CMR Electrical, Bristol: tiny

CMR Electrical Telephone Bristol "CMR Electrical Telephone Bristol" burglar alarm, Bristol • A tiny, tiny old logo with a giant telephone number. It's too small to make out here, but the logo is a wee house surrounded by a giant chain and keys. • Spotted: Small Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
CMR Electrical, Bristol: tiny

“Fab”, Cardiff: fab indeed

Fab Security System "Fab Security System" burglar alarm, Cardiff • Finally I made it to Wales, where I found this utterly fab FAB alarm. A keyhole and a Thunderbirds catchphrase – can't get more excellent than that. • Spotted: Womanby Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10, Wales, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Cardiff Central
“Fab”, Cardiff: fab indeed

“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: cop clamp

Town & Country "Town & Country" burglar alarm, Great Missenden • This is brilliant – a T and C made out of a clamp, looking like the opening titles for a 1970s cop show. Perhaps not strictly a monogram as it's part of a larger logo, but a top design anyway. The 1983-founded Town & Country's website shows they still boast the T&C clamp on everything from sounders to vans, now in resplendent 3D red. • Spotted: Town centre, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: cop clamp

“J&D Security”, Glasgow: literal

"J&D Security" burglar alarm, Glasgow • Loving this – a giant padlock clamped to a globe, illustrating literally the slogan "Securing Your World", thus placing this in the extensive "Locksmithery" category too. No clue as to what J&D stands for, though. The firm obviously are (or were) based in Scotland, but I can't find a website for them. • Spotted: Saucihall Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G2, Scotland, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
“J&D Security”, Glasgow: literal

“Soundandsafe.com”, Westminster: Martello tower

"Soundandsafe.com" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This 2002-founded firm is most unusual in having a URL for a name – and that definitely is their name, as it's the same on their website. Dotcoms don't seem to have much to do with olde worlde turrets, but it's a nice logo anyway, like a marooned Martello tower floating in a sea of dark blue plastic. And I bet it lights up at night. • Spotted: Wells Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Soundandsafe.com”, Westminster: Martello tower

“TES Security”, Bolton: named twice

"TES Security" burglar alarm, Bolton • This is quite strange, when you deconstruct it: a portcullis with a jaunty 1960s-style monogram in the middle, with a completely different logo suspended from it by chains, perhaps because the top one isn't very legible. The one above looks a bit like a bike and suggests a balancing act, while the one below is in a font beloved of 1970s sci-fi TV shows. So, a retro-futuristic design with a superannuated phone number – but no indication of what the initials stand for, or where a portcullis might fit into the grand scheme of things. • Spotted: Marsden Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bolton North East
“TES Security”, Bolton: named twice

“Knightsbridge”, Merton: horsey bling

"Knightsbridge Security Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, Merton • Giant chains, jewelled keys and a white horse (at least that's what I think it is) on top: that's one blingy portcullis Knightsbridge have in their possession, worthy of Harry Potter or Katie Price. Though like West London Security, the placing is slightly off – wealthy Wimbledon Village may very well be full of bespoke portcullises, but it's a long way from Knightsbridge. Dodgy geography seems to be a feature of portcullis alarms. • Spotted: High Street, Wimbledon Village, Merton, London, SW19, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Wimbledon
“Knightsbridge”, Merton: horsey bling

“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

"Arlescourt Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Severed hands are a popular image on burglar alarms, and quite apart from reminding thieves what appendage they might lose under sharia law, it's an ancient symbol with many connotations. The heraldic hand on this fine vintage sounder is grimly gripping a key in the manner of the Lady of the Lake brandishing Excalibur from her watery depths. It recalls the folkloric "Hand of Glory" – the dried and pickled mitt of a hanged felon, believed in medieval Europe to have the power to unlock any door it came across. There are grisly if contested examples in Whitby and Walsall museums, and a couple of mentions in Harry Potter. It's all most appropriate for a firm whose name sounds like something straight out of Camelot. • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras [caption id="attachment_11694" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="Hands of Glory: left, a medieval version, and right, Whitby Museum's example"][/caption]
“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

“OxLox Alarm Systems”, Oxford: baton sounder

"OxLox Alarm Systems" burglar alarm, Oxford • Today I start a brief run of what, until someone tells me their proper name, I can only call "baton" sounders – these long, slim, rather elegant boxes, with a flat circular bulb at the top. From the ancient phone numbers it's clear they are vintage, and they generally sport interesting graphics. This one, OxLox, is superb: it looks like a piece of art typography, or concrete poetry, and namechecks a bizarre anglo-jewish food combination – ox (as in ox cheek or ox tail) and lox (as in the cured salmon you get in bagels). In fact it's a clever play on "Oxford Locks", for an Oxfordshire firm that is no more. (Update: a commenter, below, says they do still exist but with a different phone number.) • Spotted: George Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“OxLox Alarm Systems”, Oxford: baton sounder

“Briar”, Cambridge: thorny proposition

"Briar" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Ah, Briar with its bonkers B logo – one of my favourites, here featured in its correct botanic context. Though as I've noted before, a rose or some thorns would be a more appropriate logo for this 1983-established Cambridge firm. • Spotted: Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar”, Cambridge: thorny proposition

“Stew’s” burglar alarm, Margate: matey eco-shield

"Stew's Electrical & Security" burglar alarm, Margate • This would better belong with the shield forms at the beginning of my "uncommon shapes" theme, but it's a last-minute discovery and the only example of this box type I've ever found. It's also unique in being cheerily and possessively titled for the proprietor's first rather than last name. The box looks a bit like a cheap, upside-down version of this ESS enclosure – which, according to the commenters, was a chrome shield variation CQR Multibox. All Ramsgate-based Stew's matey details are on a large label, atypical for a sticker in looking professionally-designed. It features tiny icons of those popular security tropes lightning and locksmithery, plus an unusually harmonious (for burglar alarms) pale blue and green colour scheme, which wouldn't look out of place on eco-friendly washing powder. • Spotted: Market Street, Margate, Kent, CT9, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“Stew’s” burglar alarm, Margate: matey eco-shield

“AM Security Group”, Brighton: swelling sides

"AM Security Group" burglar alarm, Brighton • Not a super-rare case style, but unusual and striking nevertheless with its swelling sides. You see these mounted horizontally too, and with the right design and colourway such boxes can look stylish – though this isn't one of them. The busy logo manages to cram in references to time, a bit of a key at the end of the 'M', and radiating from the 'A' is a spiky circle that suggests a bandsaw or a gun sight, but is probably meant to be soundwaves. • Spotted: Old Steine, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“AM Security Group”, Brighton: swelling sides

“Key Integrated Systems”, Bristol: soap dish

"Key Integrated Systems" burglar alarm, Bristol • We're moving into uncommon rectangular shapes now, which basically means boxes with fancy edges or indentations – so although rare, they're not the most exciting of enclosures. This has a ridged clear panel beneath a curved white top, and is the only example I've ever seen. It's not very recognisable however, and the best I can say about it is that it's a bit like a soap dish, or perhaps a sea slug. I can't argue with the disco-tastic logo though, which manages to incorporate an acronym, a star, locksmithery, technology, and the fact that K.I.S. were established in 1976. How on earth does Bristol support so many independent security firms? It suggests it's the crime hot-spot of the western world, though I'm sure it's not. • Spotted: Queen Charlotte Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Key Integrated Systems”, Bristol: soap dish

“Crime Cure”, Bristol: vintage inverted pocket

"Crime Cure" burglar alarm, Bristol • This is an absolutely classic sounder, and it makes me chuckle every time I see it. I found it at eye level in downown Bristol, the city that never stops giving great burglar alarm gifts. Everything about it, from my shallow design-based point of view, is good: it's vintage metal; an unusual "inverted pocket" shape (though I have found one other); rare use of green; amusing name in bold modernist type; and a complex piece of heraldry incorporating eight popular security tropes in a tiny space, namely lions, keys, an eye, a padlock, some bars, a shield, a castle, and even a motto – "protect and deter". An internet search on "crime cure security" throws up firms in business listings all over the place, including Bristol, but as none have their own websites I'm assuming they're all defunct.• Spotted: High Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Crime Cure”, Bristol: vintage inverted pocket

“Sovereign Fire & Security”, Bristol: apposite address

"Sovereign Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • A much more recent bell box from yesterday's Sovereign Security, found in the appropriate surrounds of Queen Square. It's similar to the "middle period" Sovereign I published many months ago here, except with an F instead of an S in the circle, and the addition of "Fire" to the name – a trend that seems to have been creeping in with other firms too. Rather tragically, I photographed this on New Years Day, which makes it my first-ever alarm from 2012. I really should have better things to do with my time. • Spotted: Queen Square, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Sovereign Fire & Security”, Bristol: apposite address

“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

“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

“Kestrel Alarms”, Brighton: through the keyhole

"Kestrel Alarms" burglar alarm, Brighton • Another Kestrel that's made a hostile takeover, this time of a firm called Keyhole Security, whose name resides in a giant keyhole shape – I need to find one of these unstickered for my "locksmithery" set. Despite sporting Lib-Dem orange, yesterday's Kestrel was in the Conservative consituency of Brighton Kemptown, while this example lives in the only Green constituency in England, Brighton Pavilion. Both Brighton constituencies, along with my blog, will be mightily shaken up if the proposed boundary changes come into effect, morphing into Lewes & Brighton East (likely Tory) and Brighton Pavilion & Hove (likely Labour). In other words, bye bye Greens. (There's a brilliant map from the Guardian here showing the changes.) • Spotted: North Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Green constituency of Brighton Pavilion
“Kestrel Alarms”, Brighton: through the keyhole

“Locktec Security Group”, Camden: yawning

"Locktec Security Group" burglar alarm, Camden • A while back I posted an ultra-boring Locktec alarm consisting of dull blue lettering, but if this is the same firm they seem to have reincarnated as a fierce, roaring lion. Or perhaps it's yawning – I certainly am, because I'm still on a deadline (and it's got nothing to do with burglar alarms). I quite like these rather rare curved hexagon boxes – sort of a new-fangled update on the classic Modern / ADT look. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Locktec Security Group”, Camden: yawning

“MR”, Islington: ultimate deterrent

"MR Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Finally, the ultimate nightmare – when pigeon spikes stop working. This row of shops was encrusted with spikes, but also with bird poo. Time to call in the hawks...  • Spotted: Stroud Green Road, Islington, London, N4, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North Above: a hawk – the ultimate pigeon deterrent
“MR”, Islington: ultimate deterrent

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

“Sovereign Security”, Frome: security cliches

"Sovereign Security" burglar alarm, Frome • Another abstract piece of chain, unless I am very much mistaken, which is also possibly intended to read as an eye. How Sovereign Security converts to the acronym SSS is unclear, but a crown would have been more appropriate, given the name's royal connotations. All in all an unconnected jumble of popular security cliches: monarchy, locksmithery, vision, and multiples of the letter S. (Acronym update: research shows that the firm started out as Sovereign Security Services, but are now known as Sovereign Fire and Security, and trade from the fascinating – to me, anyway – dockyard hinterlands beneath the M5 motorway at Avonmouth, Bristol. Of course, it's always a fair bet that an unexplained "SS" stands for "Security Systems" – on burglar alarms, at least.) • Spotted: Town centre, Frome, Somerset, BA11, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Somerton and Frome
“Sovereign Security”, Frome: security cliches

“Securebase”, Islington: abstract chain

"Securebase" burglar alarm, Islington • I reckon this is an abstract reference to chain links. It's quite clever if so, reading as both a small white S in the middle, a bigger blue S around it (making the ever-popular SS trope), with maybe the hint of a B, plus two chain links and the visual impression of something tightly twisted up. Though I'm doubtless reading far too much into what is essentially a pretty dull design. • Spotted: Wedmore Gardens, Islington, London, N19, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“Securebase”, Islington: abstract chain

“PM Security Systems”, Brighton: time and tied

"PM Security Systems" burglar alarm, Brighton • A mere chunk of chain on an identity that also references time, another popular alarm trope. It's a rough-looking bit of chain, more suited to leg irons than padlocks, though you'd be hard pressed to do anything useful with just three links. • Spotted: Sussex Square, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“PM Security Systems”, Brighton: time and tied

“Garfield”, Camden: not funny

"Garfield" burglar alarm, Camden • This company has put a chain around the entire northern hemisphere, from Greenland to equatorial Africa. Blimey! The trouble is most people associate Garfield with a not-funny American cartoon cat, and no amount of faded, cheap-looking Photoshoppery is going to change that. The firm could simply have given in and changed their branding to a kitten in chains; but instead they sold out in 2008 to ADT, so this improbable logo is no more. • Spotted: Bloomsbury Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Garfield”, Camden: not funny

“Securaplace Alarms”, Lambeth: graphics 101

"Securaplace Alarms" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This badly-drawn house appears to have a giant rapper's neck-chain dropped over it. Meanwhile the lettering breaks rule 101 of typography: don't use script fonts in all upper case. And definitely not vertically. All in all, not a triumph of graphic design. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Securaplace Alarms”, Lambeth: graphics 101

“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 Lock Centre”, Chichester: nerdy day trip

"The Lock Centre Alarm" burglar alarm, Chichester • A charming old piece of sunbleached script further enhanced by artistic rust, or possibly mould – totally evocative of the weatherbeaten and folorn marina where it resided. I wish I'd been able to get directly in front of it, as I dislike side-on shots like this. I stumbled across it during a friend's unsuccessful quest to find Farthings, TV astronomer Sir Patrick Moore's thatched Selsey home (in a spirit of fandom, not stalking). What a totally nerdy day out. • Spotted: Marina area, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chichester
“The Lock Centre”, Chichester: nerdy day trip

“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

“Locktec”, Tower Hamlets: ultra boring

"Locktec Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Why do so many dull typographic lock-related designs use blue-and-white Gill Sans Ultra Bold? This is the third example I've found that's set in the 1920s font – see also Bath Key Security and Strathand – and all three are ultra boring. There's a more interesting recent Locktec design depicting a roaring lion, but I'm saving that for a later category. To compound the tedium, it's a blurred photo – always a sign that I was feeling a mite exposed when taking the shot. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Locktec”, Tower Hamlets: ultra boring

“AES”, Merton: jaunty padlock

"AES" burglar alarm, Merton • This chunky but unremarkable design has wormed its way into the Locksmithery category thanks to a jaunty padlock in the bottom right hand corner. On the company website the logo is a bit more flashy, with the padlock in photographic colour, and the letters AES inscribed on its front. But although we learn that AES is a Cheam-based family company formed in 1984, there's no explanation of what the initials actually stand for: it's just another unexplained acronym. • Spotted: Kingston Road, Merton, London, SW19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Wimbledon
“AES”, Merton: jaunty padlock

“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

"Lockrite Security" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • This was found in Aylesbury, which seemed to me a shabby, sullen and faintly menacing place, despite being the county town of posh Berkshire. A brief Google search on crap towns shows that I am not alone in this assessment, but luckily crap towns are prime hunting grounds for old burglar alarms. The naive monogram on this one looks like the fabric design from a cheap 1970s A-line crimplene skirt, which ironically makes it the height of fashion, as the hideous-sounding "1970s mom" look is very modish right now. In fact everything about this alarm cries out "1970s mom", from the naff name to the cheesy font. Which is why I rather like it. • Spotted: Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury
“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

“AK Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: Kalashnikov

"AK Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • AK as in the legendary AK-47 assault rifle, a weapon not unknown in these parts? Probably not, or this would have had a picture of a gun rather than two keholes (unless they're a metaphor for the keyhole surgery required to remove bullets). The idea's not as fanciful as it sounds, because there are burglar alarms alluding to shooting, which I shall feature one day – though they don't go as far as depicting actual firerarms. I shot (photographically) this somewhat blurred image in a Bethnal Green back alley  absolutely stuffed with vintage sounders, though I was actually on my way to the grittily-located Hollybush Gardens gallery. • Spotted: Pundersons Gardens, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“AK Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: Kalashnikov

“Briar”, Cambridge: bonkers but brilliant

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

“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

“Jensen Security Systems”, Cambridge: wheel clamp

"Jensen Security Systems" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Today I proceed from keys to locks, which on burglar alarms are usually presented as keyholes or padlocks. This vintage sounder combines both, with two Js reflected round a keyhole to create a padlock-cum-shield. Sadly the logo looks more like a chunky wheel clamp, which despite sharing a name with 1970s super-car the Jensen Interceptor and (sort of) top racing car driver Jenson Button, isn't the world's most reassuring image. • Spotted: Regent Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Jensen Security Systems”, Cambridge: wheel clamp

“Keyways”, Manchester: reductive redesign

"Keyways" burglar alarm, Manchester • Here's an updated, less-basic version of yesterday's Keyways Alarm, though the obsolete 0161 Manchester code indicates it's still quite old. It's a more sophisticated design, although the Greek key aspect has been somewhat lost due to the white-on-white portion of the spiral (unless it's just faded). Also missing is the word "alarm" – I've noticed that when firms modernise their identities, that's usually the first thing to go. Presumably mere burglar alarms are considered hopelessly outmoded in today's world of high-tech multi-functional security systems. Thanks to a nice comment from Keyways' boss Mike Greaves on yesterday's post, I now know that this classical key reference was chosen by his late father Brian in the 1960s, and is absolutely intentional; it relates to the firm's origins in developing a specialised form of key safe, of which there's a potted history on the informative Keyways website. That geometric spiral was a cleverly-chosen and far-sighted piece of branding, because unlike all the other keys depicted in this Locksmithery section, Greek keys – being both abstract, and so ancient they're effectively timeless – don't date. • Spotted: Canal path, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, Lancashire, M4, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Manchester Central
“Keyways”, Manchester: reductive redesign

“Keyways Alarms”, Manchester: erudite classicism

"Keyways Alarms" burglar alarm, Manchester • We've had visual keys, verbal keys, and now, from Manchester's "gay village" of Canal Street, an abstract key. It's a Greek key to be precise, as featured in this frieze below a vintage Panda sounder in Liverpool. According to Wikipedia, the correct term is a "meander" pattern or Greek fret (which sounds like a bailout-related sulk), though I've never seen those terms used in the UK. Whatever, it's an erudite visual reference for a burglar alarm, although the design is otherwise pretty basic. • Spotted: Canal Street, Manchester, Lancashire, M1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Manchester Central
“Keyways Alarms”, Manchester: erudite classicism

“Key Stone Security”, Sheffield: classic caper

"Key Stone Security" burglar alarm, Sheffield • Architecturally speaking, a key stone is the piece at the top of an arch which holds it up. However, given it's on a vintage burglar-catching device, this instead suggests the Keystone Kops – not in their original 1912 silent film guise, but the classic 1983 Atari "video game cartridge" Keystone Kapers, in which Officer Keystone Kelly has to apprehend light-fingered Harry Hooligan (who looks like a typical "pantomime burglar") before he flees a department store. It's not the first alarm I've come across that conjures up ancient computer games: there are also a couple suspiciously resembling Pac-Men• Spotted: North Church Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Key Stone Security”, Sheffield: classic caper

“Key Alarms”, Old Coulsdon: urine-hued simplicity

"Key Alarms" burglar alarm, Old Coulsdon • We now move from visual keys to verbal keys, and this is as basic as it gets: the ragged urine-hued simplicity of Key Alarms, yet another aged specimen from the half-timbered land of superannuated security systems that is Old Coulsdon. • Spotted: Coulsdon Road, Old Coulsdon, Surrey, CR5, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Croydon South
“Key Alarms”, Old Coulsdon: urine-hued simplicity

“Lockstock Alarm”, Old Coulsdon: stylish shape

"Lockstock Alarm" burglar alarm, Old Coulsdon • Along with Radam, this unusual vintage alarm is another locksmithery winner: the highly stylised key logo wouldn't look out of place on a 1960s Scandinavian boutique. The nearest I can find to such a shape in real life is the so-called paracentric key, which has a slot up the middle and complicated teeth – however not as spiky as these. The name "Lockstock" presumably derives from the phrase "lock, stock and barrel", meaning "the whole lot"; however although it sounds plausibly lock-related, the saying in fact refers to musket parts. • Spotted: Coulsdon Road, Old Coulsdon, Surrey, CR5, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Croydon South
“Lockstock Alarm”, Old Coulsdon: stylish shape

“Strathand”, Glasgow: dual-keyed doppleganger

"Strathand" burglar alarm, Glasgow • This uninspired design scrapes into the locksmithery category because its crossed keys have been reproduced directly from yesterday's vintage SOS alarm – the proof being the tiny S just visible below the keys in both designs. Strathand is a well-established family firm based in Paisley, Scotland, though what their relationship to SOS was, or indeed whether one of the letters in SOS stood for Strathand, I haven't been able to ascertain – although I have learned, for what it's worth, that this is a Texecom Odyssey 1E external sounder. • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
“Strathand”, Glasgow: dual-keyed doppleganger

“SOS”, Glasgow: keys of heaven

"SOS" burglar alarm, Glasgow • After a run of single keys come two crossed castle keys on a shield-shaped lock escutcheon. In Roman Catholic tradition, crossed keys represent the silver and gold keys of heaven, given by Jesus to St Peter as a symbol of holy power. In heraldry, they are always presented in saltire – that is, arranged in a St Andrew's Cross, as here – and can be read as a symbol of Papal authority. Given that this alarm was found in Glasgow, a city long simmering with Catholic versus Protestant sectarianism, and also capital of Scotland, whose flag is a blue-and-white St Andrew's cross, the symbolism may not be coincidence. • Spotted: Govan Road, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G51, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow South West
“SOS”, Glasgow: keys of heaven

“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