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Vintage

“Maxpro”, Stroud: extravaganza

Maxpro Security Systems Alarm Stroud "Maxpro Security Systems Alarm Stroud" burglar alarm, Stroud • Now we move from general business excellence to the self-proclaimed pros. In this case a superb 1970s disco extravaganza called Maxpro, which either stands for the maximum amount of professionalism possible, or some geezer called Max. • Spotted: Russell Street, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stroud
“Maxpro”, Stroud: extravaganza

“Sentinel”, Hereford: shattered

"Sentinel" burglar alarm, Hereford • Same firm as yesterday, much older sounder. Presumably that bit of shattered electronics was a strobe once upon a time. The long-established firm is still around today in Hereford - you can see their current identity here, featuring the popular shield and silhouetted figure tropes.• Spotted: Town centre, Hereford, Herefordshire, HR1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Hereford and South Herefordshire
“Sentinel”, Hereford: shattered

“Sentry Alarms”, Rugby: old guard

"Sentry Alarms" burglar alarm, Rugby • So, after a brief musical interlude, we're back with the mega-militia theme, this time with sounders boasting guards and sentries. To kick things off in Rugby (ha ha), here's one I've already shown small as part of the "decay" theme, but it's ancient enough to be worth repeating close-up – I'm always a sucker for geographical phone codes. • Spotted: Gas Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rugby
“Sentry Alarms”, Rugby: old guard

“SOS Security Group”, Lambeth: 1970s disco

"SOS Security Group" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Although I have a category called "1970s disco", that's for 1970s-looking typography. Whereas this old sounder shares a name with an actual 1970s disco group, The SOS Band – famed mainly for the classic "Just Be good to Me" (which is actually from the early 1980s). • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall SOS Band. That's an SOS for the hair police.
“SOS Security Group”, Lambeth: 1970s disco

“Brocks Alarms”, Islington: non-faded

"Brocks Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • You don't see too many of these old Brocks boxes with the lion and shield on; normally they are plain white with just the logo at the top. I never know whether that's because they started like that, or the lion and shield faded off – I suspect the latter. A nice design anyway, and it heralds (geddit) the last shield, as the knightly arm-borne protection falls away leaving just a few heraldic-style animals. • Spotted: Albermarle Way, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury

“Brocks Alarms”, Islington: non-faded

“CG Computa Guard”, Bolton: green and gritty

"CG Computa Guard" burglar alarm, Bolton • Let me count the ways I love this. It suggests it's guarded by a computer. It's spelled groovily. It's green, which is unusual. It's square, and I like squares. It's got a really basic monogram, and I like those too. It's vintage. It's from Bolton, which sounds all gritty and Northern. It was on an escarpment of grandly decaying windswept buildings, in true gritty Northern fashion. It's rusty. And it's got a shield on. A total winner. • Spotted: St Georges Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bolton North East
“CG Computa Guard”, Bolton: green and gritty

“Honeywell Shield”, Tower Hamlets: bee-like

"Honeywell Shield Security System" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This is obviously the same company as yesterday, but taken over by Honeywell, a charmingly rural bee-like name for what is actually a technological behemoth. I also see plain Honeywell alarms around, so I guess they dumped the Shield part at some point. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Honeywell Shield”, Tower Hamlets: bee-like

“Shield Security System”, Hackney: crumpled

"Shield Security System" burglar alarm, Hackney • And still the crumpled old Shields keep on coming. This is a nice old vintage design, quite a few of which are still around. Maybe someone can tell me if this is the same company as the last two yellow Shields• Spotted: Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Shield Security System”, Hackney: crumpled

“Shield Burglar Alarm”, Camden: personal fortification

"Shield Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Camden • So now I move from the fortification of buildings to the fortification of humans, with the huge burglar alarm category of shields. This sounder does (or rather, did) what it says on the can. There's a side view below for the real "spotters" out there. • Spotted: Bleeding Heart Yard, Camden, London, EC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Shield Burglar Alarm”, Camden: personal fortification

“Rampart Security”, St Albans: un-illustrated

"Rampart Security" burglar alarm, St Albans • Apart from Bastion, this is the only fortification alarm featured that doesn't actually picture its defences. It's pasted over a vintage Shorrock, unless I'm very much mistaken – although of a type I've not featured yet, I'm surprised to discover. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans
“Rampart Security”, St Albans: un-illustrated

“Krypto Security”, Westminster: turret-shaped

"Krypto Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • And so we segue seamlessly from portcullises to fortifications in general – castles, fortresses, ramparts and so on. This looks like an old-style prison, which would be apt, but because I have seen other versions of Krypto's logo (coming soon), I know it's a castle. But what stands out here is the turret-shaped sounder – I wonder whether the logo was designed to fit it, or vice versa? I've never seen any other similarly-shaped sounders in the UK, though I have abroad. I'm not sad enough to snap burglar alarms on holiday, however – well, not often – so I don't have pictorial proof. • Spotted: New Cavendish Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Krypto Security”, Westminster: turret-shaped

“Britannia”, Southwark: patriotic lion

"Britannia" burglar alarm, Southwark • I end the Roman Britain theme as I began, with Britannia – I never tire of their swinging sixties-style logo, which wouldn't look out of place in a Paul Smith boutique. This old box has a bulb on top, which thanks to the comment here I now know is considered somewhat insecure, as a passing ne'er-do-well could use it to lever the alarm off. • Spotted: Morocco Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Britannia”, Southwark: patriotic lion

“Crusader Alarms”, Lambeth: night knight

"Crusader Alarms Security System" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This has the same cheese grater shape as yesterday (see side view, below), but I'm guessing this is the older iteration, partly because it's so rusty, and also because it's so minimalist, which is classic 1970s. Looking at all three Crusaders in sequence, note the way our burglar-hating Islamophobe has gone from anonymous here to realistically imagined yesterday, to a little blob under the logo the day before yesterday – which is definitely the least impressive in knightly terms. And that's enough knights for now – night night. • Spotted: Theed Street, Lambeth, London SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Theed Street, Lambeth, London SE1, England, 2012
“Crusader Alarms”, Lambeth: night knight

“Crusader Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: noble mein

"Crusader Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Again, I think we can assume that this fellow's a knight . Security firms wouldn't settle for any old hoi polloi on their sounders, and he's wearing a crowny thing, plus looks of noble mein – a suave smirk and one eyebrow raised, like the James Bond (played by Roger Moore) of crusading. • Spotted: Toynbee Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Crusader Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: noble mein

“Knight Security Systems”, Islington: noble pun

"Knight Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • With their connotations of nobility, bravery and chivalry, and the happy pun on "night", knights are one of the most popular burglar alarm themes. This old example is so huge (see side view, below) it could even have a few mounted warriors lurking within it. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Knight Security Systems”, Islington: noble pun

“Instant Aid Protection”, Westminster: bold promise

"Instant Aid Protection" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This vintage Eurobell boldly promises instant aid, which is about as speedy as you can get. I'm not sure if the company was called "Instant Aid" or "Instant Aid Protection", but either way it's not exactly a catchy name, and the logo – if such it is – is pretty basic too. It was found in the dilapidated but once-grand shopping arcade at Victoria Station (hence the fancy moulding, below), which is now being redeveloped. • Spotted: Victoria Arcade, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster [caption id="attachment_11856" align="alignnone" width="472"] The alarm in its grungily grand setting at Victoria Station[/caption]
“Instant Aid Protection”, Westminster: bold promise

“Swift Alarms Supplies”, Westminster: fast flier

"Swift Alarms Supplies Limited" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • There are billions (approx) of security firms featuring birds, but this is only the second Swift I've found – the other one is here, and is called simply Swift. This looks like the same silhouette and font as on that one, so I reckon it's an older incarnation of the same company which, judging by the 0892 code, was based in the Tunbridge Wells area. The selfsame bird can be found on the current website of  Swift Alarms Group, and indeed it says they started life in Tunbbridge Wells in 1978 as Swift Alarms Supplies Limited, so my guess was right. I should have just gone to their website first... • Spotted: Newman Passage, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Swift Alarms Supplies”, Westminster: fast flier

“CalQuick”, Southwark: grungy nut

"CalQuick Security Systems" burglar alarm, Southwark • Found in a crumbly Peckham arcade, this grungy old sounder features a splendid technical drawing-style monogram which resembles a wrench turning a nut. Unlike yesterday's firm, they managed to spell the word "Quick" right – then lost the plot with "Call".• Spotted: Station Way, Southwark, London, SE15, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Camberwell and Peckham
“CalQuick”, Southwark: grungy nut

“Sprint”, Camden: city speeding

"Sprint Security Systems" burglar alarm, Camden • If your burglar alarm goes off you need help fast, so it's not surprising that swiftness is a popular security theme. This superb vintage Sprint, which undoubtedly rang rather than beeping like a reversing lorry on steroids, is very similar to the Arlescourt sounder here. It's ideally placed above a matching shop selling some vintage sprinters of a different type, namely Italian scooters (see below). And even the logo looks like it's speeding. • Spotted: Clerkenwell Road, Camden, London, EC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras [caption id="attachment_11728" align="alignnone" width="472"] A vintage Sprint alarm above some classic sprinters[/caption]
“Sprint”, Camden: city speeding

“SP”, East Grinstead: caring mitts

"SP" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Poignantly faded in true seaside style, this shows a pair of sensitively-painted disembodied hands, in the manner of a Latin American devotional retablo, cupping the anonymous initials "SP" between them. It's an old alarm, and a minimal name to search on: there are quite a few SP security firms on various business directories, but I can't find one from southern England, so presumably these caring hands are defunct. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“SP”, East Grinstead: caring mitts

“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

"Arlescourt Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Severed hands are a popular image on burglar alarms, and quite apart from reminding thieves what appendage they might lose under sharia law, it's an ancient symbol with many connotations. The heraldic hand on this fine vintage sounder is grimly gripping a key in the manner of the Lady of the Lake brandishing Excalibur from her watery depths. It recalls the folkloric "Hand of Glory" – the dried and pickled mitt of a hanged felon, believed in medieval Europe to have the power to unlock any door it came across. There are grisly if contested examples in Whitby and Walsall museums, and a couple of mentions in Harry Potter. It's all most appropriate for a firm whose name sounds like something straight out of Camelot. • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras [caption id="attachment_11694" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="Hands of Glory: left, a medieval version, and right, Whitby Museum's example"][/caption]
“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

“Property Guard”, Westminster: wonky sentry

"Property Guard" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This wonky sentry was found next to a dingy net-curtained window in the red light area of Soho, so I won't speculate what kind of property his red bulb was was guarding. The sounder looks absolutely ancient, and I have no idea if the company still exists; there's another Property Guard in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, but I doubt it's the same firm. After a grand total of six, that's the last "baton" alarm I've found – definitely not a popular shape compared to the roughly contemporaneous Eurobell, and I still don't know what the style is really called. • Spotted: Peter Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Property Guard”, Westminster: wonky sentry

“Xtal”, Wandsworth: deprecated electronica

"Xtal" burglar alarm, Wandsworth • XTAL – what a brilliant sci-fi-sounding acronym, albeit unexplained. London's 01 area code only lasted until 1990, so unless Xtal's proprietor was deeply into avant-garde 1980s electronica, it's unlikely the firm's name was inspired by the eponymous track on Aphex Twin's 1992 debut album Selected Ambient Works 85–92. It's more likely both names refer to a different genre of electronica, namely a type of crystal oscillator sometimes notated as XTAL on electrical schematic diagrams. The term is now as deprecated is this ancient "baton" sounder's phone number, and I fear the once Wimbledon-based firm may be redundant too, for despite there being plenty of recent-looking Xtal sounders lurking around London, their website is nowhere to be found. • Spotted: Battersea Park Road, Wandsworth, London, SW11, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Battersea
“Xtal”, Wandsworth: deprecated electronica

“Glo Bell”, Westminster: self-referential

"Glo Bell" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Sporting Edward Benguiat and Victor Caruso's ever-popular Bauhaus font from 1975, this is the only red "baton" sounder I've ever found. I've seen quite a few newer-style Glo Bell alarms around London, and though I can't find a website for them, the firm is apparently still active – good news, as I always like self-referential bell boxes featuring bells. • Spotted: Berwick Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Glo Bell”, Westminster: self-referential

“Jaguar Alarms London”, Wandsworth: holey cat

"Jaguar Alarms London" burglar alarm, Wandsworth • Presumably this minimalist and somewhat holed Jaguar is a vintage remnant of the Acton-based Jaguar Alarm Company featured here – a company later acquired by Ambush, as discussed in these comments. This so-called (by me) "baton" sounder is unusual for having a blue bulb, and the logo printed directly on to it – all the others I've found have red bulbs and labels. Riveting! • Spotted: Battersea High Street, Wandsworth, London, SE11, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Battersea
“Jaguar Alarms London”, Wandsworth: holey cat

“Anglia Property Guards”, Norwich: not Alan Partridge

"Anglia Property Guards" burglar alarm, Norwich • Strictly speaking this monogram reads AGP, rather than APG, although the G is pretty indecipherable. It's just as well they spelled the whole name out, or I might have thought it was a reference to Norwich's finest export, Alan Partridge, aha. It's such a vintage alarm I wasn't expecting the firm to exist any more, but they're still going strong – you can see their current sounder and more legible logo here. Coincidentally they're based in a place called Banham, which is of course the name of another long-lived burglar alarm firm. • Spotted: Town centre, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Norwich South
“Anglia Property Guards”, Norwich: not Alan Partridge

“Civic Alarms”, Oxford: 1970s classic

"Civic Alarms" burglar alarm, Oxford • I like the way the red circle here suggests a "stop" sign, but also echoes the red bulb above it. It's just one of many differently-designed Civic alarms from various areas and eras I've come across, but I don't know if they are all the same firm. This was found on the olde-worlde covered market in Oxford town centre, and I saw various newer examples around town too, so I assume it's this Oxfordshire firm. But whether it's also the 1972-founded Civic Security whose website is here, I have no idea. The geometric slab-serif font is Rockwell (or something similar), which is a classic 1970s favourite, so it's a possibility. • Spotted: Covered Market, High Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“Civic Alarms”, Oxford: 1970s classic

“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

“Direct Security”, Hackney: nice old arrow

"Direct Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • This is a nice old arrow logo – it doesn't even bother with "01" on the phone number. I found it on a defunct tyre shop, which was encrusted with Direct's devices – I also snapped an even older version, which I'll wheel out one day. I wonder if this Direct has any connection with the boring Direct Site Services sounder I featured a few days ago? • Spotted: Chatsworth Road, Hackney, London, E5, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington
“Direct Security”, Hackney: nice old arrow

“Banham Security”, Southwark”: silver-grilled

"Banham Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • Before Banham developed their shield-shaped sounder they used all sorts of box styles, but this is the only shiny silver-grilled one I've found, and in fact the only example of this type of box I've ever seen. It's on an attractive old building in Bermondsey Street called the Time and Talents Settlement, home to a charity founded by local women in 1887 and still going strong today, offering locals "volunteering opportunities and numerous groups and projects to participate in". Maybe I'll go round and volunteer to run a burglar alarm-spotting course. • Spotted: Bermondsey Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Banham Security”, Southwark”: silver-grilled

“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

“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

“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

“Micro”, Camden: a classic of computer design

"Micro Security Systems" burglar alarm, Camden • This is a classic piece of retro-futurism - it's called Micro, and is illustrated with a microchip, that pinnacle of modernity. The typeface is a Letraset classic called Data 70 (the name's a good clue to its vintage), created by British designer Bob Newman in 1970. It's one of many such that came out around that time, based on the machine-readable MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) text you can still find in chequebooks, which despite the banks' best efforts are still with us. Since their brief moment of trendiness, such "computer fonts" have lived on eternally in the worlds of sci-fi and naffness, though it's the kind of naffness that graphic designers always retain a fondness for. For any typophiles perusing this, there's a really interesting thread about the origins of Data 70-style letterforms here. Of more interest to security professionals will be that the Micro lives above an extremely well-preserved vintage AFA sounder, with all the attendant wiring intact – it's pictured below. Much more fascinating than  the origins of a dodgy old computer font (not). • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Micro”, Camden: a classic of computer design

“Monarch”, Lambeth: dribbly digital throwback

"Monarch Security Services" burglar alarm, Lambeth • I started the royalty theme with a Monarch, so I'll end with one. I don't know if this is the same firm, and as it's long pre-internet I can't find out, but it's the most sorry example of a regal alarm so far – faded and dribbly and with a design that makes no reference to the lofty name. Instead, it's in a style that's come to be known as "retro-futurism", that is to say designs which were originally an attempt to look futuristic but now look poignantly dated – like this alarm's imitation seven-segment LED font, recalling the days when pocket calculators cost 200 quid. With renewed interest in film cameras, vinyl records and 8-bit video games, retro-futurism is much in vogue these days. I'd hate to see burglar alarms left out of a fashion craze, so coming next... retro-futurism! • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Monarch”, Lambeth: dribbly digital throwback

“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

“Crown”, City of Westminster: top tropes

"Crown" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • To me, the fact that a pointy metal hat can represent ultimate power is a troubling reminder of the sheer randomness of human society, but it's not a philosophical point that unduly taxes burglar alarm proprietors, who flock to its received symbolism in droves. This crudely-printed example is a real winner: a crown that looks like it came in a cracker, over a black-letter font bearing the twin tropes of Merrie England and its evil World War II enemies the Nazis, both big-hitting themes in burglar alarm world (which bears more than a passing resemblance to life as portrayed on the History Channel). • Spotted: Strutton Ground, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Crown”, City of Westminster: top tropes

“Royale”, Hackney: regal relic

"Royale Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • This looks around the same age as the preceding alarms, but it's so weathered it's hard to decipher the phone number. I could cheat and pretend it has a 3-letter exchange code, but in fact it doesn't: as far as I can make out, it says "Royale Security Systems ?? Benfleet 328?8". Benfleet is in Essex, near the Canvey HQ of the charming old Pearl box I featured recently. This competitor has fared less well, but I can see it once had a classic 1950s-style logo, and I reckon the casing started out as bright blue. I've done a Google search on the firm, but unsurprisingly turned up nothing at all, so any info would be welcome. Tomorrow: the new year ushers in more royal alarms, only somewhat newer than this one. Meanwhile I'll be down in beautiful Bristol, no doubt photographing yet more wonky West Country alarms and being forced to trudge the perimeters of various loser football grounds in recompense. Happy New Year! • Spotted: Shoreditch High Street, Hackney, London, E1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Royale”, Hackney: regal relic

“Granley”, Tower Hamlets: short and sweet

"Granley Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A very nice old Granley, with the kind of short and sweet (and therefore memorable) phone number we can only dream about nowadays, where BIS stands for for Bishopsgate in the City of London. To see more vintage alarms with three-letter phone codes, check out my Flickr gallery here – the photos were mainly curated from a Flickr pool called ONE TEL LET, featuring all sorts of objects bearing old-style exchange codes. It's full of fascinating photos (for those of a nerdy bent, anyway), and I recommend a look. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Granley”, Tower Hamlets: short and sweet

“AFA”, Chelsea: ancient takeover?

"AFA Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • This AFA alarm has the same phone number – CHA 2888 – as yesterday's Auto Call, and was found on the same bit of posh Chelsea wall, just round the corner from Harrods. Although like most AFA boxes it hasn't worn well, the design looks more recent than Auto Call's, so I assume AFA took them over. There's a really interesting comments thread about the company's long history below this AFA alarm, but it doesn't mention Auto Call, so if anyone knows more I'd be interested to hear it. • Spotted: Beauchamp Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“AFA”, Chelsea: ancient takeover?

“Security Centres (UK) Ltd”, Newham: Olympic cruelty

"Security Centres (UK) Ltd" burglar alarm, Newham • This vintage sounder doesn't exist any more, as I found it in a part of London that's now been completely torn down to make way for the Olympics. It's a bit hard to make out, but that's a thunderbolt piercing the portcullis – another popular alarm motif I shall feature one day. So not only will felons be brutally gated, they'll be electrocuted. Nice! • Spotted: Pudding Mill Lane, Newham, London, E15, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham
“Security Centres (UK) Ltd”, Newham: Olympic cruelty

“Chloride Granley”, Hackney: palimpsest

"Chloride Granley" burglar alarm, Hackney • I've featured this brilliant vintage sounder before, but only really small, as part of a wider decaying tableau. If you look closely there's a lightning flash in the "O" of "Chloride", which is then repeated as the large jagged circle in the middle. It's unusual in being stencilled, and is the only one of its kind I've ever found, though unadorned Granley boxes are still fairly common. Decades ago Chloride – who I associate with car batteries – must have taken over Granley, and instead of stickering on a new logo as is the norm, they used a stencil so you can still see the old design underneath: a palimpsest, if you will. I'd be interested to know more about either firm, if any of the security pros out there can enlighten me. • Spotted: Leonard Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Chloride Granley”, Hackney: palimpsest

“Intervene Securities”, Newham: divine retribution

"Intervene Securities" burglar alarm, Newham • Here's another iteration of Intervene's elderly lightning flash – I'd be interested to know if it's older or newer than yesterday's. Thunderbolts suggest not only electric shocks (or in extremis the electric chair), but also retribution from on high, in the form of a bolt from the blue. So maybe this intervention will be divine... • Spotted: Abbey Lane, Newham, London, E15, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham
“Intervene Securities”, Newham: divine retribution

“Intervene Security Ltd”, Tower Hamlets: lightning field

"Intervene Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A piece of Land art I have always wanted to see is Walter de Maria's The Lightning Field (1977), a square kilometre of remote New Mexico desert bristling with 400 steel poles, designed to channel both occasional lightning storms and the sun's daily passage. But since it's around 5,000 miles away, and you have to pay $250 to stay there overnight (and aren't even allowed to take photos), I shall have to make do instead with a few burglar alarms bearing lightning flashes, aka thunderbolts. Once popular, it's rather a low-tech symbol these days, so is found mainly on vintage sounders such as this one. Note to completists: I've already featured a few thunderbolts – on Aegis, EnrightHaven and X Ray – in other categories. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Intervene Security Ltd”, Tower Hamlets: lightning field

“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