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“Securi-Guard”, Fowey: slimy shield

"Securi-Guard" burglar alarm, Fowey • So, now we move on to fortifications on shields, combining the popular tropes of militia and aristocracy. It's amazing the label in question is still attached, because this wins the prize for the slimiest burglar alarm I've ever found. It's on a wave-lashed quayside building in Fowey, Cornwall, famed for being a) hard to say (it's pronounced "foy", to rhyme with "toy") and b) where the novelist Daphne du Maurier lived. She wrote eerie, suspenseful stories such as The Birds, Jamaica Inn and Don't Look Now (all since made into scary films), so perhaps there's a giant pecky bird or stabby red-coated dwarf lurking behind that castellated wall. • Spotted: Town Quay, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of St. Austell and Newquay
“Securi-Guard”, Fowey: slimy shield

“Amega Alarms”, Oxford: worshipping hands

"Amega Alarms" burglar alarm, Oxford • These severed, supplicating hands look like they're worshipping rays of light, or catching a shower, but actually they're cradling a faded letter A. It belongs to Oxford-based Amega, a 25-year-old firm whose more recent boxes, featuring the same design, can be seen here. I've also come across handless sounders bearing the very similar name Amiga – as in the legendary 1980s computer – but I assume that's a completely different company. • Spotted: Park End Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“Amega Alarms”, Oxford: worshipping hands

“Thorndon”, Newham: tenuous thorns

"Thorndon Chelmsford" burglar alarm, Newham • Yet another variation on thorns, admittedly rather tenuous – but it's a nice old Eurobell box, and I have to feature these things somewhere! Essex-based Thorndon were formed in 1982, an era this sounder probably dates from – but I've seen plenty of newer ones too. • Spotted: Cooks Road, Newham, London, E15, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham
“Thorndon”, Newham: tenuous thorns

“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

“Carroll Security”, East Grinstead: badly-cut wedge

"Carroll Security" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • This must be an earlier version of yesterday's Carroll, as it looks like metal and they aren't yet a "Group". It's a more geometrical version of yesterday's logo, again professional, and surely designed in the 1970s. Once again it's an unusual sounder shape, this time like a badly-cult wedge of cheese. I used to think this was to fit the sloping roof, but I've seen others on flat walls since and they all have the same slanting box. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Carroll Security”, East Grinstead: badly-cut wedge

“Carroll Security Group”, Camden: maggoty arch

"Carroll Security Group" burglar alarm, Camden • I featured one of these arched sounders a while back for Nu-Tron, but they're pretty unusual, although I was informed in this comment there's a cache of them around Lyme Regis. This is a good use of the shape, with a professional-looking logo that reads as an S, a C, and also a kind of Yin-Yang symbol (or possibly two entwined maggots). The firm's name is in the font Rockwell, which is very redolent of the 1970s, though this must date from later. • Spotted: Tottenham Mews, Camden, London, W1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Carroll Security Group”, Camden: maggoty arch

“Chubb”, Sheffield: rusty equilateral triangle

"Chubb" burglar alarm, Sheffield • After yesterday's unusual pentagonal Chubb, here's the classic equilateral triangle version. Not an uncommon design per se as there are lots of Chubbs around, but it's a one-firm shape, and the sharp-cornererd metal vintage ones like this are starting to rust into oblivion, normally from the bottom edge up – maybe the design causes rainwater  to collect there. • Spotted: Bank Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Chubb”, Sheffield: rusty equilateral triangle

“Chubb”, Camden: pentagonal imposter

"Chubb" burglar alarm, Camden • A pentagonal rather than triangular Chubb – unusual! You normally only see this shape on Initial and Shorrock alarms, so I'm guessing that when Chubb took them over they retained a few legacy sounders. The screw in the C totally ruins the effect, unfortunately. • Spotted: Charlotte Street, Camden, London, W1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Chubb”, Camden: pentagonal imposter

“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

“M-Tronic”, Islington: antiques arcade oldster

"M-Tronic Alarms Ltd." burglar alarm, Islington • Recently there was much discussion under an old Lander box about the firm M-Tronic, and its successor Nu-Tron. To summarise, it was stated that M-Tronic was an east London company whose bell boxes were secured with two screws (just about visible through the rust here) similar to a Lander box, and whose owners sold out to Lander before going on to form Nu-Tron – a firm which will be discussed tomorrow. I'd never seen an M-Tronic sounder, and the commenters reckoned very few ever existed, but I've now discovered this incredibly oxidised, but still legible, M-Tronic example in the apt surrounds of an Islington antiques arcade. I've put it in the "retrofuturism" section because calling anything something-tronic sounds futuristically dated. And it also makes me think of futuristic-in-80s electro record label M-Tronic, and the similarly vintage electro-hip-hop duo Mantronix, whose logo serendipitously features yesterday's computer typeface. Though even both of those old-skool "tronics" are probably more recent than this ancient alarm with its pre-01 phone number. Interesting phone fact: the prefix here, 555, is regularly used for fictitious phone numbers in American films and TV shows (see for instance The Simpsons), as it covers a special set of numbers not used by any US exchange. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Camden, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“M-Tronic”, Islington: antiques arcade oldster

“Regal Security Systems”, Hackney: missing monarch

"Regal Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • Yesterday I posted a Regal sticker, and today here's an actual sounder, of the classic 1980s design that looks like a clock-radio when mounted horizontally. I've searched for this firm on the internet but turned up nothing whatsoever, so presumably they were bought out before the world wide web got popular. Which means I will never get to find out what the big fat "W" in the logo stands for – and whether it's meant to resemble a crown. (Update: if you check the comment below and here, the mystery is solved –  Regal was originally Wimpey, and in 2001 sold out to ADT. Which makes it surprising I couldn't track down any info on Google, because 2001 isn't that long ago.) • Spotted: Hackney area, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Regal Security Systems”, Hackney: missing monarch

“Regal Security Systems”, Lambeth: vintage village

"Regal Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Many moons ago I featured a Regal sticker which had taken over the shadowy running man on an RH Alarms box. And here's another, probably older design, that's been slapped over an ancient bell box whose name even the magic of Photoshop can't reveal. I found it in the fascinating warren of decaying covered markets that weaves beneath Brixton's railway lines like a multi-ethnic souk. It's now been reinvented as "Brixton Village" and, amidst a tangle of units selling everything from "cheap gold" to goats' heads, is home to a swathe of excellent pop-up eateries, from one of which I took this photo. True to its dodgy reputation, the area is positively bristling with burglar alarms, many as vintage as this one. So although I'm not keen to wander the Coldharbour Lane backstreets with an expensive camera – or even without one, for that matter – I'll be back. Preferably with tactical air cover. • Spotted: Market Row, Brixton, Lambeth, London SW9, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood
“Regal Security Systems”, Lambeth: vintage village

“Grange”, Old Amersham: monkish manor

"Grange" burglar alarm, Old Amersham • Home, home on the grange – a popular place name in England, and originally denoting the farming estate of a monastery, of which there were once squillions. Henry VIII seized them all at the dissolution of the monasteries, then doled out the land to his noble chums, hence the term's continuing association with manors and country houses today. Posh Old Amersham is exactly the kind of place you'd associate with burglar alarm-studded Tudorbethan granges, though this excellent ancient design is probably too modern for local tastes. • Spotted: Town centre, Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP7, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Grange”, Old Amersham: monkish manor

“Krypton”, Nottingham: noble gas

"Krypton Security" burglar alarm, Nottingham • Blimey – even Krypton can't keep the evil pigeons at bay! OK, I know it's Krypronite that can nobble Superman; Krypton, apart from being the fictional planet he came from, is in real life a rare but slightly dull "noble gas", shown bottled below. • Spotted: Forman Street, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Nottingham East Above: a vial of glowing ultrapure krypton (from Images of Elements)
“Krypton”, Nottingham: noble gas

“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

“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

“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

“Chiswick Security”, Hackney: hackneyed device

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

“Radam”, Tower Hamlets: genteel locksmithery

"Radam Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This vintage alarm, found near Petticoat Lane market, is my favourite key example. Although presumably dating from the 1960s, the lettered key has a pre-war look, evoking a genteel age of locksmithery – you can almost imagine a butler answering the alarm bell. There's attention to detail, too: the grooves on the shaft are streamlined into the design, and the notches on the blade echo the "am" of "Radam" – which sounds like a completely made-up name. • Spotted: Goulston Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Radam”, Tower Hamlets: genteel locksmithery

“Zodiac Security”, Ealing: science and superstition

"Zodiac Security" burglar alarm, Ealing • The stories behind the various star signs are pretty convoluted, but they're all based on ancient folklore and superstition, so astrology is a fitting follow-up to my previous theme of mythological alarms. Zodiac is a Greek word for the constellations meaning "circle of animals", an idea drawn from the Babylonians, who first divided the heavens into 12 parts. It was originally an astronomical concept, but the great Romano-Egyptian scholar Ptolomy systemised the personality-based astrological system that remains hugely popular today. However, as we shall see, there are surprisingly few burglar alarms named after star signs – odd, as there are many good strong names: Taurus, Aries, Capricorn, Leo... though maybe not Cancer. I haven't even come across a security firm called Libra, and not name-checking the divine scales of justice seems a serious omission. So, unless security engineers are such a militantly rational lot that they won't even contemplate zodiac-based names, they're missing a trick in the burglar alarm branding stakes – and there's room to start an astrological trend. • Spotted: Ashbourne Parade, Ealing, London, W5, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Ealing Central and Acton Above: Look at all the brilliant potential burglar alarm logos on this 16th century woodcut showing the signs of the zodiac. They're just begging to be used...
“Zodiac Security”, Ealing: science and superstition

“Thorndon Security”, Camden: typographic relic

"Thorndon Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Graphic design heaven: a load of decaying type on a wall. The numbers are a good old 1950s font, typical of that era when presumably there weren't many different styles of signage lettering to choose from. The alarm sports one big initial, a very common device, and one I'll return to. I found it in the gem-dealing area of Hatton Garden (famously featured in Dustin Hoffman's 1976 film Marathon Man) and, although legitimately photographing in a public street, got very heavily hassled by a security guard for my pains. That was just three years after 9/11, and it would probably be even worse now. It's actually quite difficult photographing burglar alarms –  it often makes me feel like a criminal myself! • Spotted: Hatton Garden, Camden, London, EC1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Thorndon Security”, Camden: typographic relic

“Haven Security”, Brighton: peace and lightning

"Haven Security" burglar alarm, Brighton • I know it's meant to be an H formed from a lightning flash, but this also looks like half an SS logo trapped in a gate. Brilliantly, Haven Security is based in Peacehaven on the white cliffs of Sussex, nowadays a bastion of middle-class retirees but once Britain's much-fortified frontline to the continent. Peacehaven is obviously the origin of the firm's title, qualifying this alarm for the WWII theme by both design and location. Combined with the sunset lighting, it always makes me think of retired army colonels drinking sundowners in the safe haven of their cosy clifftop bungalows. • Spotted: Old Steine, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“Haven Security”, Brighton: peace and lightning

“Thames Security”, Windsor: fierce royal swan

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

“Chubb”, Hackney: the oldest brand of all

"Chubb" burglar alarm, Hackney • It's ironic that I selected this iconic blue Chubb box for its Modernist design, as it turns out to be the oldest brand name of all; and also, sadly, a blueprint for the decline of British industry at the hands of high finance over the last 40 years. The company was launched in 1804 by Charles Chubb, who started out selling ships' ironmongery, but moved into security when his brother Jeremiah invented a new type of lock. After gaining a Royal Warrant in the 1830s, the Chubb family enjoyed five generations of global growth, providing security for everything from the Crown Jewels to the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Winston Churchill's wartime papers. By the end of the 1960s the Wolverhampton-based company had swallowed up Rely-A-Bell and many other smaller rivals and was a respected bastion of British industry. According to ex-employee David Ibbs, the rot set in during the 1970s when Chubb damaged its finances by acquiring – under government urging – the failing Gross cash register business. And so, as the era of deregulation dawned, the weakened Chubb shifted from being a proud family-run manufacturer providing careers for life, to being the financial plaything of City moguls driven only by the bottom line. Starting with a misguided acquisition by Racal in 1984, Chubb demerged and remerged with other multinationals several times, "downsizing" (ie making skilled and loyal staff redundant) each time, and gradually splitting apart so that locks, safes and alarms ended up with different owners. Today, the alarms division is just a small part of American conglomerate United Technologies Corporation (UTC), while the other pieces are owned by Swedish multinationals. Chubb's last family boss, George Charles Hayter Chubb, aka the third Baron Hayter, was a highly-regarded Lords cross-bencher who tried to block Maggie Thatcher's destruction of the GLC, and once chaired the Design Council. Presumably his interest in design led to the 1970s introduction of this minimalist blue branding with its striking triangular box, known for obvious reasons as the "Delta". This powerful design has survived Chubb's many changes of ownership and lives on still, its current incarnation being a chunky-looking round-cornered Delta in posh navy plastic. In earlier times there was also a square blue metal box bearing the same logo, and I recently spotted a distressing new pentagonal variation. The example pictured here is a classic old metal Delta with faded paint and sharp corners, possibly dating from the 1980s. The (intentionally?) "chubby" initial C is, apparently, based on the front view of a mortice lock – a last poignant link to the glory days of the original Chubb brothers and their once-great British company. • Spotted: Kings Wharf, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Chubb”, Hackney: the oldest brand of all