Skip to content

Precious

Ivory, Merton, 2010

“Ivory” burglar alarm, Merton • Not only precious but endangered. There’s a newer Ivory with an actual elephant on it here. • Spotted: Merton Road, Merton, London, SW19, England, 2010 […]
Ivory, Merton, 2010

“Platinum”, Tower Hamlets: unassuming bling

"Platinum" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I would normally castigate a design so unadorned as boring, but since this is meant to represent the pure, noble element of platinum, it reads well as a minimalistic statement of quality, despite a typeface more usually associated with sci-fi subjects. Platinum became known in Europe after the discovery of the Americas, where the pre-Columbians had long used it to make artefacts. These days it's used in both industry and jewellery, from chemotherapy drugs and catalytic converters to wedding rings and high-end watches. Whether denoting credit cards or record sales, it is perceived as above gold in the prestige pecking order, though its bullion value is less stable. Platinum has thus become the unassuming bling of choice for people who think gold too crass and silver too cheap, preferring to pay over the odds for something that looks like stainless steel. • Spotted: Barnet Grove, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Platinum”, Tower Hamlets: unassuming bling

“Golden Security Systems”, Brent: dull but gilded

"Golden Security Systems" burglar alarm, Brent • After 318 entries, my first burglar alarm from the borough of Brent – which shows I don't often venture into deepest North London. Gold is an appropriate element for the Totteridge & Whetstone area, home to some of London's most expensive property – although given that Whetstone looks to me no more attractive than Streatham, just a typical dull and dusty, traffic-snarled suburb, Totteridge is clearly the more gilded end. This golden oldie is affixed to Whetstone's small and snorey parish church, St John The Apostle (below), and incorporates a naive monogram with what I take to be sound waves, thus cramming three classic security themes onto one superannuated bell box. • Spotted: St John the Apostle Church, High Street, Whetstone, Brent, London, N20, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chipping Barnet
“Golden Security Systems”, Brent: dull but gilded

“Sterling Security”, Southend-on-Sea: unpolished

"Sterling Security" burglar alarm, Southend-on-Sea • We've had three gem alarms, and now their perfect setting – three precious metals. First up is sterling, a term denoting silver hardened with a small amount of another metal, as pure silver is too soft to fashion into useful items. It's an ancient standard, one which has been regulated from Saxon times at least, and subject to an official assay mark since the 12th century. Add a heraldic lion – a very common burglar alarm trope that I'll cover further one day – and this Sterling sounder suggests an alloy of Britishness, quality, longevity and reliability. Just a pity it hasn't had a polish recently. • Spotted: Town centre, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rochford and Southend East
“Sterling Security”, Southend-on-Sea: unpolished

“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

“Sapphire”, Southwark: dull jewel

"Sapphire" burglar alarm, Southwark • There are surprisingly few security firms named after jewels, so this Sapphire is as rare as its namesake. But what a disappointing design – a word associated with sparkling blue gems illustrated by a dull red-and-pink swirl that looks like a manky windsurfer's parachute under full sail. In fact sapphires can be any colour except red or pink, in which case they're called rubies. And although sapphire wafers (yum) are sometimes used in semiconductors, which may conceivably have some relevance to security systems, this logo doesn't reflect that either. Disappointment drove me to trawl the internet, where I have identified two far more literal-looking gemstone burglar alarms I hope to find and photograph one day: a shadowy intruder running through a Diamond in downbeat Bedford and a far-flung Emerald set in – where else – Ireland. • Spotted: Bermondsey Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Sapphire”, Southwark: dull jewel

“Gem”, Nottingham: rare jewel

"Gem" burglar alarm, Nottingham • I'm always a sucker for businesses optimistically named after rare metals and jewels, but sadly there are precious few burglar alarms named after precious things, even though that's what they protect. This rare gem of a sounder was found in a quaint but creepy Victorian backwater of Nottingham hemmed in between a canal and a railway, where I got lost while looking for an art gallery (a common occurrence). Note the diagram of a faceted gemstone (a round brilliant cut I reckon), which shows why I classify the chunky faceted alarms security pros call "delta" boxes as "jewel-shaped" – they have the same sort of form factor. • Spotted: Sherwin Road, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG7, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Nottingham South
“Gem”, Nottingham: rare jewel