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Other connotations

Safeway Security, York: triangles

Safeway Security "Safeway Security" burglar alarm, York • Starting today: some examples of the very popular burglar alarm trope of triangles, often allied with monograms. This one's not to be confused with a certain supermarket. • Spotted: Burton Stone Lane, York, Yorkshire, YO3, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
Safeway Security, York: triangles

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

Matrix Security, Brighton: array

Matrix Security "Matrix Security" burglar alarm, Brighton • Has lots of connotations, including an incomprehensible and increasingly crappy film franchise. But it's also a mathematical term, meaning a rectangular array of elements. And the word offers designers the chance to use a giant 'X', which is always good. • Spotted: Surrey Street, Brighton, East Sussex, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Green constituency of Brighton Pavilion
Matrix Security, Brighton: array

“Abel”, Falmouth: able

Abel "Abel" burglar alarm, Falmouth • OK, so it says Abel not Able – but Abel's founder, quoted here, says the name was intended to suggest the company was "able" (among many other things) – therefore qualifying for the category of excellence. Anyway, I like the Eurobell sounder; and I found it in the Cornish town of Falmouth, which is excellent in itself. • Spotted: Arwenack Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Truro and Falmouth
“Abel”, Falmouth: able

“Class Systems”, Hackney: Marxism today

Class BroadwayMkt nr E8 4PH 40431_800 "ClassSystems.co.uk" burglar alarm, Hackney • You could read this as being a classy product, but looked at another way it's almost a Marxist statement, especially in the rapidly gentrifying area of the People's Republic of Hackney where I found it - on a posh shop surrounded by not-so-posh ones. • Spotted: Broadway Market, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Class Systems”, Hackney: Marxism today

“Status”, Stratford-upon-Avon: Mr Boasty

StatusAlarms Cook'sAlley StratfordUponAvon nr CV37 6PT 20121_800 "Status Alarms Coventry" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • Starting today is the essentially boasty theme of excellence - whether a self-proclaimed quality of the burglar alarm firm, or conferred by the bell box upon the client. In this case it's the latter: with this sounder, you will gain status. I once saw one on a Prince of Wales pub, which is an ideal site. You can also get light bulbs (the old fashioned energy-gulping kind) called Status, which - like a burglar alarm - is either on or off, I guess. • Spotted: Cook's Alley, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
“Status”, Stratford-upon-Avon: Mr Boasty

“GAF Alarms”, Islington: punny

GAF Alarms "GAF Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • One of my favourites, both for its awkward yet traditional 1920s-style monogram, and the fact that GAF is a sort-of pun on house, though I'm not sure if that's intended.• Spotted: Whitecross Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“GAF Alarms”, Islington: punny

“A1 Alarms”, Southwark: straight

"A1 Alarms" burglar alarm, Southwark • The A1, running from London to York and Edinburgh largely following a straight ancient Roman route, is famously the UK's longest numbered road. This company probably meant their name in the sense of "very good", but seeing as I've found examples of their sounders in both London and York, perhaps they did have the highway in mind too. • Spotted: Bermondsey Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark Above: part of the very long A1
“A1 Alarms”, Southwark: straight

“Glo Bell”, Westminster: cheeky

"Glo Bell" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This has no globe at all – just a cheeky pun (well I assume it's meant to read "global", unless it's some kind of glowing bell). I'm rather fond of Glo Bell's cheerful-looking sounders – there's another one here. • Spotted: Eastcastle Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Glo Bell”, Westminster: cheeky

“USA”, Southwark: speeding

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

Ghost under “3D”, Lambeth: usurped

Ghost under "3D Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This faint ghost-shadow is pentagonal, which means it's either an occult symbol, or the final traces of a Shorrock. As for the usurping brand 3D, its initials are clearly meant to suggest three dimensions, but also have the less marketing-friendly meaning of "third". • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Ghost under “3D”, Lambeth: usurped

“Mace”, Derby: bonce-buster

"Mace" burglar alarm, Derby • I once saw a real Tudor mace in a museum, and it was very scary indeed - a massive club that could shatter a skull with one blow. And these days, Mace is a generic term for tear gas and pepper spray, of the type popular for quelling civil unrest. So despite the atractive ceremonial crossed maces shown here, it's not a weapon you'd want to get too close to. I found this sounder in Derby, so I reckon the firm behind it is Staffordshire-based Mace Security, though the logo's now changed to something less martial. • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Derby South
“Mace”, Derby: bonce-buster

“MOD Alarms”, Sheffield: subculture

"MOD Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield • Perhaps named to suggest the suitably militaristic Ministry of Defence, this sounder also recalls the 1960s Mod subculture, a bunch of youths noted for smart suits, flashy Italian motor scooters, and love of fighting greasy rockers on the beaches of southern England. So, not a pop group exactly, but represented by many 1960s bands such as the sharply-dressed Who and Small Faces – and, in 1980s revivalist form, The Jam. • Spotted: Alma Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central Some mods. Who are also The Who.
“MOD Alarms”, Sheffield: subculture

“Ace Security”, Islington: 1970s non-disco

"Ace Security" burglar alarm, Islington • A 1970s disco logo for a 1970s non-disco group: Ace, a bunch of hairy be-flared musos notable mainly for the very successful single "How Long", which was top 20 in both the UK and the USA in 1974-5. • Spotted: Aylesbury Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Ace the one-hit-wonder group
“Ace Security”, Islington: 1970s non-disco

“Shivon”, Westminster: head-turner

"Shivon Security Systems" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I wonder if this is pronounced like Siobhán? I'd never heard of this word but it does come up as a name on Google, usually for young women. According to the not-very-reliable online Urban Dictionary, Shivon means "a girl who can turn the head of any man" – a definition which I am sure this firm was not named after. Nice shield, anyway – three letter S shapes, geddit? • Spotted: Wellington Street, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Shivon”, Westminster: head-turner

“Cherry Security”, Islington: ooh, fruity!

"Cherry Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Plant-based imagery is surprisingly popular with security firms, so this week's theme is botanical alarms – that is, sounders featuring fruit, flowers and trees. And what better way to kick off than with this juicy pair of cherries – an image so loaded with fruity connotations that I'm simply not going there. Instead I'll just note that the sounder is the same unusual design as the ESS box featured here, and that Cherry's website features more flashing emergency lights than the Old Kent Road on a Saturday night. • Spotted: Marlborough Road, Islington, London, N19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“Cherry Security”, Islington: ooh, fruity!

“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

“Hoffman Security”, Lambeth: symbol of chaos

"Hoffman Security" burglar alarm, Lambeth • I've already featured a white Hoffman box here, when I compared its arrow logo to the Dad's Army credits. But the symbol also has more ancient origins: the central four-armed cross is a heraldic mark called the cross barbee, also known as the arrow cross, denoting movement in all directions. In the 1930s it was adopted by the Hungarian fascists, and has since become associated with extremist right wing groups such as the American Nationalist movement. The logo bears an even stronger resemblance to the eight-pointed "Symbol of Chaos" (definitely not something needed on a burglar alarm), a design first doodled  the early 1960s by the writer Michael Moorcock in for his Elric of Melniboné stories and later taken up by role playing games, comic books, heavy metal groups and the like. All connotations which were totally unknown to Hoffman, I'm sure, who in fact based this logo on the joystick controls of a CCTV system. • Spotted: Brixton Road, Lambeth, London SW9, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood [caption id="attachment_11252" align="alignnone" width="472"] Left, the cross barbee or arrow cross; right, the "symbol of chaos"[/caption]
“Hoffman Security”, Lambeth: symbol of chaos

“Next Gen”, Hackney: shiny Trekkie plug

"Next Gen Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • Half-way between the Secom and Ambush plugs, though with eight sides rather than six, this is another rarely-seen bell box shape that resembles a giant electrical plug. It would be quite attractive if the logo wasn't so basic, which is a waste of tasteful chrome. In its futuristicness, it can't help but conjure up Captain Picard and his chums from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In contrast, the Elstree-based firm's website has a brilliant stock photo of an old school "pantomime burglar" wearing black hat, gloves and goggles. Make it so! • Spotted: Hoxton Square, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Next Gen”, Hackney: shiny Trekkie plug

“DDD Fire & Security”, Hackney: illuminated wedge

"DDD Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • Morphing onwards from the last few days' triangles and shields, this is a flat-bottomed wedge that lights up at night. They used to be pretty rare, hence featuring here in the "uncommon shapes" category, though I fear they are swiftly becoming popular (fear, because they're impossible to photograph well when illuminated). In purely visual terms, they look quite effective and I prefer them to the chunky faceted "jewel" shapes of the last decade or so; however when I featured one recently, it met with a certain amount of derision from the commenters. As for DDD Fire & Security, they're a large Coventry-based firm who were founded in 1968, but their website gives no clue to what the memorable triple D stands for – presumably not a bra size. I've come across various "3D" firms – one stood for "Defend, Deter, Detect" – so maybe it's a variant on that, without the unhelpful connotations of coming third. • Spotted: Hewett Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“DDD Fire & Security”, Hackney: illuminated wedge

“Tara”, Kensington: venerable green shield

"Tara" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Yet another take on the triangle, this venerable shield classifies as "uncommon" because it's used only by divisions of Banham, who must have taken over Tara at some point (they used to have really boring rectangular boxes with a very basic logo). You see many Taras in Kensington & Chelsea, so I liked to imagine the firm was named after some posh filly (eg Palmer Tomkinson) rather then the Scouse for goodbye – this one was even found in Cheval (ie horse) Place. But as pointed out in this comment, the Hill of Tara is an important Irish Neolithic site that was the mythical seat of Ireland's high kings – hence perhaps the green logo, which I'm rather partial to. • Spotted: Cheval Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Tara”, Kensington: venerable green shield

“Bates Alarms”, Southwark: pocket psycho

"Bates Alarms" burglar alarm, Southwark • If yesterday's Friedland was a pouch, this is a jeans back pocket. I've found it billed as an obsolete Euro-Siren so I assume it's not proprietary, though it's a shape I've only seen used by Bates Alarms. Established in 1965, they describe themselves as London's oldest independent electronic security company; their awkward "ba" logo, which possibly dates from that era, also earns them a spot in the "naive monogram" category. It's a bit pathetic, but I always think of Norman Bates from Psycho when I spot one – not the most reassuring of associations. • Spotted: Webber Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Bates Alarms”, Southwark: pocket psycho

“Nu-Tron”, Camden: on the old-tron Scala Cinema

"Nu-Tron Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • Like yesterday's rare round-topped Nu-Tron (aka Old-Tron) sounder, this newer version again has an unusual box shape, though one that's much more commonly seen as it's popular with many other companies too. I know nothing of it inner workings, but in superficial design terms it's a good choice: the rounded grey N matches the rounded grey sounder nicely. I found it on the old Scala cinema at Kings Cross, which is now a pool hall; and it looks like someone's scraped a circular sticker off the centre of it, suggesting it's been maintained. • Spotted: Kings Cross Bridge, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Nu-Tron”, Camden: on the old-tron Scala Cinema

“Nu-Tron”, Tower Hamlets: thermonuclear device

"Nu-Tron Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Thanks to various commenters, I now know that Nu-Tron is the successor company to yesterday's M-Tronic, and you can certainly see the resemblance in the big rounded initial. It's an unusual shape of box which I've not featured before, and anything called Nu-Tron that looks more like an Old-Tron simply demands to be put in the "retro-futurist" category. But as for naming your sounders after a thermonuclear device specifically designed to kill all nearby humans while leaving buildings standing? A bit extreme, surely. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Nu-Tron”, Tower Hamlets: thermonuclear device

“Crown Security”, Camden: monarch of the waves

"Crown Security" burglar alarm, Camden • In typical burglar alarm fashion, this acronym has one more letter than the firm's name; and CSS could stand for many other things, from the USA's Central Security Service, to Catholic holy order the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, to Cascading Style Sheets, formatting language of the web. However from the 081 phone number I deduce that this is an earlier incarnation of yesterday's firm, although the logo is completely different. You still see a lot of bell boxes around with this chunky 1970s-style livery, whose design probably dates from the firm's founding in 1982. Although not that great – it looks like CSS is floating in a black sea, monarch of the waves – it's a lot more recognisable than its bland successor, so for brand continuity they should perhaps have evolved it rather than going for a total reboot. • Spotted: Torrington Square, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Crown Security”, Camden: monarch of the waves

“ICU”, Hackney: hip heptagon

"ICU" burglar alarm, Hackney • My final vision-themed "backronym" offers up the unambiguous message "I see you". It's a nice idea, although the label could equally well be a piece of conceptual street art. Note that the sounder is the first I've posted with seven equal sides – a shape known occasionally as a septagon, but more usually as a heptagon. Or in this case, a hip Hackney heptagon. Fact: its sides all meet at an angle of 128.5714286 degrees. Thank you, Wikipedia! • Spotted: Rivington Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“ICU”, Hackney: hip heptagon

“MECE”, Camden: see me

"MECE" burglar alarm, Camden • Assuming this firm isn't run by an ecstasy-chugging rapper called MC EE, the logo is intended to read "me see" – geddit? – and is thus, like yesterday's iC, a "backronym". What the letters actually stand for isn't indicated on MECE's website, though I did learn that it's a huge 18-year-old company with offices across Europe, and loads of major clients including Eurotunnel, Cambridge University and the 2012 Olympics. Which makes it odd that I've only ever come across a couple of their sounders. • Spotted: Store Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“MECE”, Camden: see me

“IC Integrated Security Ltd”, Southwark: backronym

"IC Integrated Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Southwark • To end this vision theme, a few examples of punning abbreviations, where the characters stand for entire words or syllables. While broadly acronyms, these seem to be a grey area in the English language, with no precise term for the multifarious kinds of letter-play available, though in an extensive entry, fascinating to those of a sub-editorial bent, Wikipedia suggests "initialism" as a catch-all term. I suspect this is what they would cutely sub-class a "backronym" – "one deliberately designed to be especially apt for the thing being named" – as Integrated Security happily reduces to iC, reading as "I see", or even "eye see". Had the designer dotted the "i" with an eye, this would have created enough levels of punning to end the universe. It possibly did end the company, because their website was last updated in 2009. • Spotted: Old Jamaica Road, Southwark, London, SE16, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“IC Integrated Security Ltd”, Southwark: backronym

“Colt”, Hackney: brutal subtext

"Colt Alarm Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • OK, so I've already featured a Colt, but it was shrouded in pigeon netting; this one's simply blurred. The fact that the term Colt is associated with handguns as well as young male horses is probably no coincidence, which means this also falls into the rare "shooting" category. The device's brutal subtext makes a nice contrast with the girly puce paint, which was on a groovy Shoreditch boutique. • Spotted: Goldsmiths Row, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch Above: real colts
“Colt”, Hackney: brutal subtext

“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

“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

"APE Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Starting today: a bonkers burglar alarm bestiary. Animals are one of the most popular themes for security firms' logos, and they're not always fierce, with at least 50 per cent ranging from from cuddly to crazy. I'll be posting, in alphabetical order, all the creatures I've found so far, excluding birds and dogs, which are so numerous they get their own categories. Thus I start with Ape (plus cheeky house fly), which combines several top security tropes in one minimalistic design: soundwaves, naive monogram, unexplained acronym, and an unfortunate connotation, as presumably it's not really meant to suggest a large hairy hominid. Given the soundwaves I'd guess it stands for something techy like Audio Protection Enterprises, and the pre-dtp logo suggests it's a long-standing firm. (Googles Ape Fire & Security). Yes, this firm is the first thing that turns up, established 1977 and still going strong with an up-to-date website. But as to what Ape – or as their blurb has it, A.P.E. – stands for, there is no mention.• Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: a real ape (Photo by Matthias Trautsch)
“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

“3D”, Winchester: WWII spike machine

"3D Security Systems Defend Deter Detect" burglar alarm, Winchester • Defend, Deter, Detect – an ambitious claim which unwittingly sugests this firm is third, rather than first, choice for defence. It clearly needs help with pigeons though: perhaps they use the eponymous "Defender" pigeon spikes from Jones & Son, who sport a brilliant logo with a pigeon standing on it, and seem to have cornered the market. Much as I dislike the look of bird spikes, saving the nation from disappearing beneath piles of guano seems a noble enough cause, especially as the firm offers – perhaps rashly – a large bar of chocolate if they don't answer pigeon control email queries within two hours. They also have a crazy reconditioned WWII wire-bending machine on which they make the spikes – perfect cover for a Blitz alarm! • Spotted: Town centre, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Winchester
“3D”, Winchester: WWII spike machine

“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

“Eros Security Systems”, Lambeth: crazy love god

"Eros Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • After a couple of sensible mythological burglar alarms, we're back to the bonkers ones. Eros? What on earth has Eros, Greek god of sexual love, got to do with security services? And anyway, this looks more like his boyish Roman counterpart Cupid, who was often portrayed as younger than the fully-formed teenage Eros. The resemblance to the Evening Standard's venerable logo makes me think this is a reference to the so-called Eros statue at Piccadilly Circus, that icon of tourist London. However, hard though it is to believe, what Wikipedia says about Alfred Gilbert's piece of high Victorian camp is true. I've double-checked, and the statue that stands surrounded by the horrible hurly burly of Piccadilly is not intended to be Eros, but his butterfly-winged twin brother Anteros, who was associated with selfless and requited love (although he sounds like a half-baked deity the Greeks made up to impress the Romans). For all its faults, this silly, cheeky alarm is one of my all-time favourites – so naughty Cupid has worked his mischievous magic. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Above: Eros and his twin in London. Top left: "Eros Stringing His Bow", a Roman copy of a Greek statue at the British MuseumTop right: ''The Angel of Christian Charity'' aka "The Shaftesbury Memorial" (1893) by Alfred Gilbert at Picadilly Circus, colloquially known as the Eros statue, but actually depicting his selfless twin bro Anteros. Above: London's familiar Evening Standard "Eros" logo (recently dropped from their masthead), which depicts the Piccadilly Circus statue and is therefore actually Anteros.
“Eros Security Systems”, Lambeth: crazy love god

“WSS Alarms”, Glasgow: not the Waffen SS

"WSS Alarms" burglar alarm, Glasgow • I rather like this naive typographic design, which – presumably by accident – stands for Waffen SS and is even in a classic Nazi colourway. The thorny circle of Ws looks like a ring of razor wire protecting the SS, and – although it clearly dates from the days before the World Wide Web caught on – lends it a subliminal online feel. It also bars the logo from my "basic" category, as it requires a certain amount of graphic know-how to put type on a circle, no matter how low-tech the end result. • Spotted: Merkland Street, Partick, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G11, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow North
“WSS Alarms”, Glasgow: not the Waffen SS

“SS Alarms”, Hull: Hitler’s evil henchmen

"SS Alarms" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • Hmmm, a firm called simply SS – how cryptic. It could stand for "Steam Ship", as in Isambard Kingdom Brunel's pioneering SS Great Britain. It could stand for "Saints", as in the art-stuffed SS Giovanni e Paolo, one of Venice's finest Gothic churches. It could even, if you're a graphic designer, stand for "Same Size". But whenever I see SS on a burglar alarm, it always makes me think of the Waffen SS, as in Hitler's evil henchmen. And so although I know it probably stands for Security Systems (because SS on a burglar alarm inevitably does), the minimalist logo of SS Alarms has ended up here, in my World War II category. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle
“SS Alarms”, Hull: Hitler’s evil henchmen

“Security Services”, Stoke-On-Trent: an owl’s face?

"Security Services" burglar alarm, Stoke-On-Trent • You may disagree, but I contend that this represents the face of an owl. An owl made of rope, with the initials SS for eyes, to be sure – but still distinctly an owl, down to the suggestion of ears. Yes, it could be a kinky bra, or a pair of goggles, or just a knot – but that wouldn't be so burglar alarmish. I rest my case. • Spotted: Hanley town centre, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Stoke on Trent Central
“Security Services”, Stoke-On-Trent: an owl’s face?

“Capstan”, Kensington: not the evil cigarettes

"Capstan" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Because of their clinical 1970s-style design and a name recalling the fiendish hand-blackening Capstan Navy Cut Full Strength cigarettes still common in that era, I've always assumed these were quite old. The shield-shaped box also looks like the product of an earlier, more rigorous era; it's a design classic, but not widely used nowadays except by Banham. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that this firm is very much still in existence, and indeed has its HQ not far from my home. Unlike all the other outfits sporting "Modernist" designs, Capstan seems not (yet) to have been involved in a web of global takeovers; but it's still a long-established firm, founded in 1978, which may be when the design dates from too. Its restrained colour blocks are reminiscent of Swiss graphics, the sort of livery found on the pill packets Damien Hirst loves to use. He loves using cigarettes too, bringing me neatly back to Capstan Navy Cut – which, befitting their nautical branding, were notorious as the most tar-laden tabs on the market. These unfiltered beauties were once advertised to harassed mums thus: "When the kids are getting out of hand and driving you insane – Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Let Capstan take the strain!" • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Capstan”, Kensington: not the evil cigarettes