Skip to content

SS

CSS, Hackney, 2006

“CSS” burglar alarm, Hackney • I often see these generic alarms featuring a portion of Britain. I guess it’s a standard design people apply their firm’s name to (in this […]
CSS, Hackney, 2006

GSS, Lambeth: extended

GSS Grays "GSS Grays" burglar alarm, Lambeth • I like the way the extended sci-fi-style type of this unexplained  SS-themed acronym fills the whole sounder. Grays Security Systems, perhaps? • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
GSS, Lambeth: extended

Sonata Security, Norwich: tuneful

Sonata Security "Sonata Security" burglar alarm, Norwich • I've featured a lot of sound and music-based alarms without ever having a dedicated category (apart from bells), so here's one now. Sonata is rather a tuneful concept for a sounder, and look how the double S makes a kind of snakey heart... very upmarket. The only other classical music reference I've come across so far is Berkeley Guard, run by the scion of a famous composer. • Spotted: Town centre, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Norwich South
Sonata Security, Norwich: tuneful

“So Secure”, Greenwich: handbag-worthy

So Secure "So Secure" burglar alarm, Greenwich • I love this beautiful double S monogram, which is so sophisticatedly retro in its black-and-olive curvyness that it wouldn't look out of place on an Orla Kiely handbag. (That's a compliment, chaps.) However, perhaps not the most legible - it wasn't till I found a version with the website on that I realised the green circle meant it said "SoSecure". Until then I'd always read it as "SSecure", putting it in the rather large "SS" logo category (in the Security Services, rather than Nazi sense). Whereas in fact it kind of says SOS. Very clever. • Spotted: Herbert Road, Greenwich, London, SE18, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich
“So Secure”, Greenwich: handbag-worthy

“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

"HSS Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • HSS used to be based in Harlow, so I reckon HSS stands for Harlow Security Systems. Aptly for a sounder located in Tower Hamlets, it pictures a Beefeater - aka a Yeoman of the Guard, which is apparently an incorrect term for Yeoman Warder, ie a geezer who ceremonially "guards" the Tower of London. That looks like a vicious weapon he's carrying, but in fact it's just a decorative staff. Tomorrow however, the theme is indeed weapons. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

“Wychwood Security”, Cirencester: ex-wood

"Wychwood Security" burglar alarm, Cirencester • Spookily-named Wychwood, which sounds like something out of Harry Potter, was once a royal hunting forest covering much of West Oxfordshire. It was also once an Oxfordshire security firm, but Wychwood Security Services is nowadays part of Advance Vision Group, aka AVG, a 1989-founded firm whose sounders I'm not currently familiar with. As for Wychwood, their WSS monogram was a bit more fancy than Woodland Security Systems’, but it still majors on an ill-advised "SS”. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
“Wychwood Security”, Cirencester: ex-wood

“Woodlands”, Westminster: ancient wood

"Woodlands Security Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Another bosky firm, Kent-based Woodlands was dissolved in 2005, the year I photographed their sounder (there's a red light at the far right, so it must be still working). Their HQ was in Erith, near to ancient Oxleas Wood and the 89 acre Woodlands Farm (a charitable trust open to all) – which is possibly the source of their name. However their WSS monogram logo isn't very clear, leading the sounder to suggest it belongs to an organisation called "SS" – never a very good look. • Spotted: Oxford Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Woodlands”, Westminster: ancient wood

“Sovereign Security”, Bristol: god bless Queen Vic

"Sovereign Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Nestling on a fine brutalist wall is another Sovereign Security sounder, though I don't know if it's the same company as yesterday or the day before. This looks like it dates from some time between those two, yet the design's totally different – but it seems unlikely there would be two firms with the same name operating in the Bristol area. It's a much duller design, even if it finally does spell out that SSS stands for Sovereign Security Services (nothing like repeating your name twice in the space of six inches). It was found in aptly regal Victoria Street, which like half the civic projects in England was named after good Queen Vic, which means they're also named after me.• Spotted: Town centre, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Sovereign Security”, Bristol: god bless Queen Vic

“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

“Mercury Security Systems”, Islington: god of thieves

"Mercury Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • This boring design gives no clue whether its name refers to the planet, the element, the crap Queen singer or the myth. Seeing as the myth came first, I shall include this alarm within the mythology section. Mercury was the Roman version of Hermes, messenger of the Greek gods, famed for his winged sandals and helmet, and a snake-entwined staff called a caduceus. The Romans equated him mainly with travel and commerce, and his image can be found adorning stations and shopping centres to this day. A notably slippery character, with traits which would have taken him far in diplomacy or journalism, Mercury combined patronage of noble things such as music, wit, sport and invention with a reputation for cunning and trickery. Which is perhaps how a god strongly associated with thieves and boundaries – described in an ancient Greek hymn as "a watcher by night, a thief at the gates" – has wangled his way onto a burglar alarm. • Spotted: Whitecross Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Above: Mercury in Manhattan, still representing trade and travel today. Left: "Winged Mercury" (1933), a carving by Lee Lawrie on the ex-British Empire Building at the Rockerfeller Centre. Right: "Glory of Commerce" (1911-14) by Jules-Alexis Coutain, aka the famous Mercury clock at Grand Central Terminal. There's more about it on Which Yet Survive, a great but short-lived blog about New York statuary.
“Mercury Security Systems”, Islington: god of thieves

“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?