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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

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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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