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2011

“GD Security”, Southwark: un-describable wedgie

"GD Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • Another wedgie sounder with an un-describable shape, from the prolific GD Security, whose bulldog I've already featured here in the dogs category. While their guard mutt never changes, GD use a wide variety of box designs, usually in silver. This however is in blue and white, which I always think of as subliminal "police" colours. • Spotted: Morocco Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“GD Security”, Southwark: un-describable wedgie

“Alarm Service Group”, Bristol: constructivist classic

"Alarm Service Group" burglar alarm, Bristol • As I've never seen it used by anyone but Alarm Service Group, I must assume that this super-smart and beautifully-designed modernist sounder is proprietary to them, though they also use Eurobells. Or, I should say, once used: the firm doesn't exist any more, though there are still lots of their boxes around in Bristol, mainly in very good condition. I love the yellow-and-green colour scheme, the broad green strobe (if that's what it is) at the bottom, and the mysterious symbolism of the logo – part totalitarian throwback, part bow-tied chains. Whoever came up with this constructivist classic had a great eye for design. There's a photo of one below on a massive Soviet-style building in Bristol: a perfect match. • Spotted: Wine Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West [caption id="attachment_11029" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="A perfect match: Alarm Service Group's modernist sounder graces the Soviet-style Cafe Central in Quay Street, Bristol, 2011"][/caption]
“Alarm Service Group”, Bristol: constructivist classic

“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

“Challenger”, Bristol: dull but rare

"Challenger Fortis Fidelis" burglar alarm, Bristol • OK, so this is a dull soapdishy shape. But it's the only version of this particular dull soapdishy shape I've ever found, and the logo's a bit of a classic – I always appreciate a shield and a Latin motto. Fortis et fidelis is a common heraldic phrase meaning "brave and faithful", "strong and loyal", or variations thereof; it's also a ridiculously overpriced brand of cognac• Spotted: Small Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Challenger”, Bristol: dull but rare

“Response Alarms”, Lambeth: convoluted tricorder

"Response Alarms" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Response alarms are always a convoluted shape, perhaps due to their solar panels. This old example looks like some piece of kit off Star Trek's USS Enterprise – a tricorder, perhaps – and is the only one of its kind I've ever seen. • Spotted: Cornwall Road, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Response Alarms”, Lambeth: convoluted tricorder

“Minerva Integrated Security”, Camden: tasteful square

"Minerva Integrated Security Services Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • This is a very recent square design, so tasteful it resembles a Bang & Olufson speaker. At one point I thought such squares were going to take over the entire burglar alarm world, which would have been a bit dull; but they seem to have had their day already, and while not exactly rare, aren't a common sight either. I don't know if this firm is any relation to the venerable AFA Minerva of old – presumably not, as their website says they were formed in 2005. I can't work out what the jittery circular logo is meant to suggest, if anything – certainly not the Roman goddess the firm takes its name from. • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Minerva Integrated Security”, Camden: tasteful square

“Shorrock”, Bristol: mini-fan-heater

"Shorrock" burglar alarm, Bristol • Now we're on to unusual square sounders, though this kind of design may be more common abroad – I've seen several in Belgium and Italy, for a start. The classic Shorrock is a pentagon as here, so I reckon this mini-fan-heater is older, though the logo's the same. • Spotted: Surrey Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Shorrock”, Bristol: mini-fan-heater

“Secom Carroll”, Lambeth: wedgie dual grille

"Secom Carroll Security Communication Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • And my final Carroll for now, after being taken over by Secom – which happened in 1989, according to the comment here. This is before Secom had their current logo or weird plug boxes, but it's still an unusual shape – a wedgey square with double grilles on each side. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Secom Carroll”, Lambeth: wedgie dual grille

“SYS”, Islington: deep pocket

"SYS" burglar alarm, Islington • An even deeper pocket than yesterday, decorated with a not-very-attractive unexplained acronym logo that's presumably meant to suggest "system". The firm's uninformative website is here and the actual sounder can be found here – this example is the only one I've come across in the flesh, so to speak. The logo is a reflected palindrome in the manner of Abba, ie it reads the same in both directions and is also physically reflected down the middle. Bizarrely, I do have an Abba alarm, which I shall post one day. • Spotted: Tollington Park, Islington, London, N4, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“SYS”, Islington: deep pocket

“Swale”, Southwark: bulky kitchen container

"Swale Security Systems Ltd Aquila group" burglar alarm, Southwark • Eight-sided but not a regular octagon, this resembles a bulky kitchen container. I've only found a few of these ungainly objects, which are sometimes mounted vertically. Swale makes me think of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, but it's actually an area of Kent at the mouth of the Thames. Its main town is Sittingbourne, and that's where this firm was based, though I think it exists no more. Aquila Group describes itself as "a group of independent electronic security companies", which presumably swallowed Swale up. Their website has limited functionality, but there's a picture here of an Aquila sounder similar to the day before yesterday's heptagonal Servian. Then there's a German Aquila Group that has the same logo, but deals with giant cargo ships; and all sorts of international conglomerates and financial funds with a similar name, who surely have nothing to do with little Swale Security. Aquila is Latin for "eagle", and can refer to the Roman legion standard, a constellation, and Roman boss-god Jupiter's pet raptor (who in Greek mythology carried thunderbolts for Zeus), hence the popularity of naming for shadowy James Bond-esque behind-the-scenes organisations.• Spotted: Decima Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Swale”, Southwark: bulky kitchen container

“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

“Aaron Hi-Tec”, Bristol: now looking sadly lo-tech

"Aaron Hi-Tec" burglar alarm, Bristol • To kick off the retro-futurist theme, here's an LED font that's obviously meant to look high tech (after all, it says so in the name), but is now definitely vieux chapeau. I've recently featured an oval Aaron sounder, but this one's much older, and its decay adds still further to the retro-futurist poignancy. To be fair, the style of Aaron's LED text is a bit more modern than the seven-segment display on yesterday's Monarch, and you still see this kind of scrolling display on everything from bus stops to billboards. It's just not very high tech, that's all. • Spotted: Jubilee Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Aaron Hi-Tec”, Bristol: now looking sadly lo-tech

“Imperial Fire & Security”, Bristol: dark ruler

"Imperial Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • This is almost the same as yesterday's Imperial, but I include it because it's the first time I've come across a bell box in alternate colourways, and also black is quite unusual. Despite its corporate blandness this logo is obviously a professional design job, and was clearly thought through: the black sounder looks smart and groovy, but you'd want a white one on light-coloured walls (as long as it was cleaner than yesterday's example). • Spotted: Wapping Wharf, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Imperial Fire & Security”, Bristol: dark ruler

“Imperial Fire & Security”, Bristol: royal connections

"Imperial Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • According to its website, Imperial was founded in 1997 and is based in Bristol – which seems to have an unfeasably large number of local security firms. There's nothing about the look of this that suggests royalty, unless the blue ribbon has some regal significace that escapes me. But there's no doubt that the emperor-related word "imperial" fits within this week's regal theme, as does the serendipitous Queen's Road location. • Spotted: Queen's Road, Bristol, Avon, BS8, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Imperial Fire & Security”, Bristol: royal connections

“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

“Security” (with crown), Southwark: nameless ruler

"Security" burglar alarm with crown, Southwark • This cheerful yellow sounder, found on Decima Studios in Bermondsey, is a complete mystery – it doesn't even have a name. Presumably the cracker-style crown indicates the title "Crown Security", unless the company is simply called "Security", which would certainly be cornering the market. The phone number is a shifty old mobile one, and googling it turns up absolutely nothing, so a mystery the bell box must remain. • Spotted: Decima Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Security” (with crown), Southwark: nameless ruler

“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

“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

“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?

“Samaritan”, Camden: unholy rip-off

"Samaritan" burglar alarm, Camden • We all know Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan, who crossed the road to help a wounded stranger. It's an odd reference for a burglar alarm, as are The Samaritans, those nice people you phone up when feeling suicidal. But more interesting to the graphics geek in me is that this attractive modernist S logo is a rip-off of the seminal trademark for British Steel (below), before they stupidly changed their name to Corus. It was by top British designer David Gentleman, whose weirdly obscure mural at Charing Cross tube station annoys me every time I go past it. His British Steel S may in turn have been "inspired" by the eerily similar earlier Security Pacific Bank logo (below) by legendary art director Saul Bass, behind of some of the world's most famous logos and film titles, from Kleenex to The Man with the Golden Arm. He also claimed responsibility for directing the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho; so, given the security and nightmare intruder references, maybe this Saul Bass "tribute" has some relevance after all. • Spotted: Museum Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Left: Rembrandt's "The Good Samaritan" (1630) from the Wallace Collection in London. Right: a 1960s S logos by David Gentleman, above, and an earlier one by Saul Bass, below.
“Samaritan”, Camden: unholy rip-off

“Genesis”, Camden: biblical beginnings

"Genesis Integrated Systems" burglar alarm, Camden • This is possibly named after the horrible band (it could be an above shot of one of Peter Gabriel's early hairstyles), but I shall assume it's a reference to the first book of the Bible and the origin of the world. All that plus integrated systems too! While researching the Genesis singer's "reverse mohawk" (below), I came across brilliant medieval illustration showing the first day as essentially the view from an aeroplane window (also below). Or perhaps a giant celestial laundromat. • Spotted: Southampton Place, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: Peter Gabriel's early Genesis "reverse mohawk" barnet, and a laundromat-style first day of creation as depicted in the Nuremburg Chronicle of 1493
“Genesis”, Camden: biblical beginnings

“Abbey Alarm Systems”, York: mystery monastery

"Abbey Alarm Systems" burglar alarm, York • Monkish bell boxes abound around York: this firm is based in nearby Selby, home to one of the few English abbeys that Henry VIII didn't smash up when he booted out the Catholics to gain multiple shagging / beheading rights. So presumably the building is meant to be Selby Abbey, though the silhouette looks nothing like it. Saddo that I am, I have Google image-searched the abbeys of England and found no match anywhere; in fact to my untutored eye it looks Germanic, so maybe it's just random clip-art. It's not even the same abbey used on Abbey's Alarm Systems' non-functional "under construction" page, which at least is Selby Abbey. Woo hoo! • Spotted: Newborough Terrace, York, Yorkshire, YO3, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Abbey Alarm Systems”, York: mystery monastery

“Minster Alarms”, York: monster minster

"Minster Alarms" burglar alarm, York • Minster, a word dating from Saxon times and derived from the Latin for "monastery", is an honorific title for an important church. Minster Alarms are scattered all over York, so we can assume they refer to the monster minster looming up behind yesterday's Monks alarm – namely York Minster, one of northern Europe's largest Gothic cathedrals, whose foundations date back to Roman times. These days it houses the C of E's number two boss, the Archbishop of York; cleric number one lives in London, despite being known as the Archbishop of Canterbury. In fact he's a near neighbour of mine, being based at Lambeth Palace in SE1, but I've never been invited round for tea... • Spotted: Grape Lane, York, Yorkshire, YO1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Minster Alarms”, York: monster minster

“Monks”, York: monastic habits

"Monks Security Systems" burglar alarm, York • There's a pretty unambiguous Christian reference here, although the Monks family behind Monks Security are unlikely to be descended from real friars, as the Domesday-era surname was more usually a nickname for those with monastic looks or habits (no pun intended). Their supposed celibacy means real monks were unlikely to have heirs to bear this name, although in early medieval days monastics were allowed families, so it's not impossible. Aptly, this was found right outside the massive ecclesiastical edifice that is York Minster, though I couldn't frame a shot with the cathedral in the background. But there's a burglar alarm with it on tomorrow. • Spotted: Minster Gates, York, Yorkshire, YO1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Monks”, York: monastic habits

“Advanced Integrated Systems”, Bristol: rude name

"Advanced Integrated Systems" burglar alarms, Bristol • It's somewhat hard to see, but there are two tiny black alarms on this geometrical Dutch-inspired office block, carefully aligned between the white globe lights and the roof's twin peaks, and placed in the troughs left by two earlier sounders. Sadly despite its unusual design it's a rather dull building, enlivened only by a rude but amusing graffiti play on its name, Amelia Court. Scroll down for the new, improved Anglo-Saxon version; I won't spell it out, or I'll get loads of spam from dodgy "adult" sites. • Spotted: Pipe Lane, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Advanced Integrated Systems”, Bristol: rude name

“Initial”, Bath: free cheese

"Initial" burglar alarms, Bath • This building is so Bath – it looks as if it's falling apart, but is full of expensive stuff. Arranged like a kitchen sink still-life from the art gallery within, the twin Initial alarms balance the tubs of dying plants beneath, with a scruffy tableau of junk in the top right window adding a final downbeat flourish. I always love Bath for the first day I'm there, then start to hate it in all its small-town, early-closing dullness – the best thing I discovered last time was The Star Inn, an ancient pub that serves real ale and occasional free cheese, albeit mainly to groups of 50-something men discussing Dr Who. • Spotted: George Street, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath  
“Initial”, Bath: free cheese

“Ape Fire & Security”, Bristol: watchful simians

"Ape Fire & Security" burglar alarms, Bristol • I've already commented on the oddness of APE's logo, and still don't know what the unfortunate acronym stands for. Anyway, here's a pair of watchful simians hanging from yet another graceful Bristol building – the locals don't seem to have much to do except sling random sounders up all over their beautiful and historic city, which makes it a great hunting ground for me. • Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Ape Fire & Security”, Bristol: watchful simians

Nameless alarms, Bristol: grand establishment

Nameless burglar alarms, Bristol • This grand old Bristol building houses Thorne Security, who were founded in 1858, so are possibly as old as their establishment. I'm assuming the two mysterious black bell boxes belong to them; however Thorne don't appear to install intruder alarms as part of their extensive security activities, which is perhaps why the sounders are nameless. (They don't deal in sabres either, despite having one in their logo.) • Spotted: Wine Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
Nameless alarms, Bristol: grand establishment

“Securebase”, Hackney: semi-gentrified triplets

"Securebase" burglar alarms, Hackney • Although this heritage-green property in a semi-gentrified road near Hackney's riot central looks like a shop front, from its trio of bell pushes I deduce that the neatly-aligned Securebase triplets relate to three separate properties within. QED. • Spotted: Chatsworth Road, Hackney, London, E5, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington
“Securebase”, Hackney: semi-gentrified triplets

“SDS Security”, Southwark: posh option

"SDS Security" burglar alarms, Southwark • A stormy sky lights up three SDS boxes clad in shiny chrome, which I now know is the expensive option for sounder casings. They're somewhat too posh for the pitted concrete wall, though the combination is reminiscent of installations by many a contemporary artist, eg Turner Prize nominee Martin Boyce. They look too closely spaced to represent the alarms for three different floors, but that's the only explanation I can think of for the arrangement. • Spotted: Wild's Rents, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“SDS Security”, Southwark: posh option

“Wimpey”, Chelsea: not the burger chain

"Wimpey Security Systems" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • I came across this at Chelsea Reach, en route to explore the exclusive but tacky and depressing semi-gated community that is Chelsea Harbour (whose creation cut off to non-residential car traffic a very useful public road running behind the riverfront). It's an excellent old Eurobell sounder with a long-obsolete Wimpey logo – look closely, and there's a flash of lightning in the "C" of "Security". Presumably it hails from George Wimpey, who merged with Taylor Woodrow to form Taylor Wimpey PLC in 2007, but was the UK's largest private house builder in the 1970s – the same era as this alarm. • Spotted: Uverdale Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW10, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chelsea and Fulham
“Wimpey”, Chelsea: not the burger chain

“Echo Alarms”, Nottingham: paranoia descends

"Echo Alarms" burglar alarm, Nottingham • I don't know what echoes have got to do with lightning, or why this is set in an art deco typeface. But I do know why it's a crap photo: it was getting dark and it was in a bleak and creepy residential area, so I quickly grabbed the shot and ran. (To be honest I find most of Nottingham creepy – a combination of the gloomy Victorian architecture and its reputation for drugs and gangs, I guess. That and the fact that some paranoid woman went mental at me for photographing her house there one day.) • Spotted: Beeston Road, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG7, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Nottingham South
“Echo Alarms”, Nottingham: paranoia descends

“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

“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

“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

“ASG Vision”, Bristol: flamboyant tail

"ASG Vision" (over "OS Resolution") burglar alarm, Bristol • Aha - I love a sticker, and especially a violent yellow one. Bristol seems to have a particularly thriving burglar alarm ecosystem, and here, ASG Vision have effected a brutal takeover of a hapless OS Resolution box (both firms I have come across this one time only). It's included due to the "vision" reference; what the acronym ASG refers to remains opaque, but I reckon its flamboyant tail is a very abstract eye. • Spotted: Broad Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“ASG Vision”, Bristol: flamboyant tail

“BAC”, Bristol: uninspired iris

"BAC" burglar alarm, Bristol • I like burglar alarm-hunting in the West Country, because there are so many independent firms with quirky designs. Sadly, this is one of the less inspired ones: I'm not sure if it's a letter "O" representing the iris (or perhaps a number "0", for zero crime), but I'm including it in the typographic section anyway. There's an example of BAC's current design here, which is even worse, and doesn't look like an eye any more. The firm is based in the unpreposessing yet quaintly-named suburb of Fishponds; their website gives no clue as to what BAC stands for, but I'm guessing Bristol Alarm Company. • Spotted: Exchange Avenue, St Nicholas Market, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West

“BAC”, Bristol: uninspired iris

“Argus Always Alert”, Westminster: retro gem

"Argus Always Alert" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • So I was standing waiting for the bus near Victoria Station, as one does, when I looked up and saw this: a superb vintage Argus alarm, with an abstract eye in the "g", and the enjoyable tagline "always alert". It's much nicer than the more recent red-and-black Argus Fire & Security Group alarm I found here, though I presume it's the same company. The building it's on is also a retro gem: Kingsgate House (pictured below), an attractive marble-fronted 1960s office block which is about to be swept away in a massive redevelopment, along with its all-seeing, hundred-eyed, always-alert guardian. • Spotted: Kingsgate House, Victoria Street, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster Above: Kingsgate House, Victoria – not long for this world
“Argus Always Alert”, Westminster: retro gem

“TecServ UK”, Nottingham: Freudian epic

"TecServ UK" burglar alarm, Nottingham • Dull though it may appear to the untrained eye, to the expert burglar alarm analyst this small device is a Daily Mail-esque Freudian epic. Clad in royal blue and English mustard with a modern yet understated font, it mixes trendy with traditional in a riot of symbolism: a padlock within a passionately flaming eye, a name suggesting service, technical prowess and patriotic values, and a sub-offer of fieriness and security. Surely the very model of a Femail reader's fantasy burglar alarm engineer – a Heathcliff of the sounder, a Mr Darcy of the bell box. Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it. • Spotted: Friar Lane, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Nottingham South
“TecServ UK”, Nottingham: Freudian epic

“Barry Bros”, Westminster: red eye

"Barry Bros" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • An even older Barry Bros alarm than yesterday's, this time with a big red eye and an ancient 071 code, plus a much bigger box. I prefer this red eye to the newer blue ones, because it looks like a warning light. Thankfully this is the last Barry Bros box, as there's not much else to say about them. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall  
“Barry Bros”, Westminster: red eye

“APS”, Bristol: tangled metaphor

"APS" burglar alarm, Bristol • A tangled visual metaphor, for sure: a one-eyed arrow-shaped house, with another arrow for a nose, joined by a dotted line (or a very ill-advised facial tattoo) to some soundwaves coming from its single ear, which presumably represents this sounder. The typography is equally complex, with four different fonts, and even the box is an unusual shape and colour – the few other examples I've found have blue sides, whereas these are green. It's all very neatly laid out, and gives the impression that every detail was agonised over – all told, a most unusual sounder design. • Spotted: Corn Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“APS”, Bristol: tangled metaphor

“Alarm Systems Torquay”, Bath: hydrant sign

"Alarm Systems Torquay" burglar alarm, Bath • This looks like the miniaturised eye from yesterday's odd alarm, staring out from one of those yellow H signs signifying a fire hydrant (see below). It could be a black magic symbol, but it's more likely to be a monogram – saying H, OH, HI or even OHI – but with a sounder this old there's no info to be found. • Spotted: George Street, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath Above: a fire hydrant sign (photo by Bishty)
“Alarm Systems Torquay”, Bath: hydrant sign

“SM”, Bristol: strange peeper

"SM" burglar alarm, Bristol • A blank-faced box with a single black peeper – this is just strange, and like so many sounders featuring eyes, a bit creepy. The company's name is totally obscure – I'm not even sure if it's ISM (geddit), OSM, or just SM, and of course there's no clue what any of it stands for. It's probably not Sado-Masochist, so I'm guessing Security Master. • Spotted: High Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“SM”, Bristol: strange peeper

Eye sticker, Westminster: creepy graffiti

Nameless burglar alarm with eye sticker, City of Westminster • Ushering in the theme of "vision", which for obvious reasons is one of the most popular burglar alarm tropes, is this rather disturbing example of sticker graffiti. The creepy intervention lurks next to an art gallery (Haunch of Venison, named after the yard it's in) – probably no coincidence. I've discovered the sticker is by a street artist called Paul Insect – a print of a similar image would set you back nearly £700, as you can see here at Opus Art• Spotted: Haunch of Venison Yard, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
Eye sticker, Westminster: creepy graffiti

“Tindall Security”, Islington: rockabilly owl

"Tindall Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Unlike the last two days' mysterious swift-or-swallow SWAT alarms, Tindall have a highly recognisable owl, and the firm is still demonstrably in existence, with a fully functioning website and a head office in Hertford, albeit on an industrial estate inacessible to Google Street View (I hate it when that happens). The owl's got a flat-top – maybe it's a fan of rockabilly. OK, that's enough birds. Tomorrow: vision. • Spotted: Tollington Park, Islington, London, N4, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“Tindall Security”, Islington: rockabilly owl

“Swat Selby”, York: digital snooping

"Swat Selby" burglar alarm, York • Another mysterious SWAT alarm, this time with a bulb and a fancier "AT" monogram than yesterday's. I've been googling SWAT and still can't find out much about them: their website is just a holding page saying "coming soon", which could date from any time in the last few years. It bears this swirly "AT" rather than yesterday's clunky effort, so maybe this is the more recent alarm, though it looks pretty ancient. I came across quite a few old SWAT sounders in York, but no new-looking ones, so whether the firm still exists I don't know. I suppose I could ring the number on their website's holding page, but I haven't reached that sorry stage yet, so restricted myself to digital snooping. On one of myriad business aggregator pages (which is where businesses go to die) SWAT turn up on there was a positive review from 2010 – possibly an insider job – saying they were a long-established family firm. I also visited their address on Google Street View, but there was no sign of them there, although as it's a multiple-occupancy business centre, that doesn't prove anything. So all I have learnt is that Selby – which I had never heard of before – has an abbey, lies beside the River Ouse, and looks as if it's falling down. • Spotted: Grape Lane, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Swat Selby”, York: digital snooping

“Swat Selby”, York: mystery bird

"Swat Selby" burglar alarm, York • They like birds in York: yesterday a raven, today a hummingbird. Although the "SW" in "SWAT" suggests it's a swift. Or a swallow. Yes, I think it's a swallow – hovering over the badly-drawn monogram "AT" rather than a nest. In Selby. As swallows do. I wonder if SWAT is intended as a verb – as in swat all pesky burglars – or as an acronym, as in its original meaning of "Special Weapons and Tactics" (which would be rather exciting in smalltown Selby) or, more locally, "Selby's Wonderful Alarm Technologists"? All very mysterious. • Spotted: Low Petergate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Swat Selby”, York: mystery bird

“Raven”, York: common thief

"Raven Security & Automation Ltd" burglar alarm, York • To round off a couple of weeks of hawkish birds, here are a few more arbitrary birds I've come across since the last lot. Raven is a generic name for various large members of the corvid or crow family, of which the Common Raven – which this sounder presumably depicts – is the biggest and most, well, common. It's an interesting bird, very intelligent and with a long and usually dark history in folklore and literature, but I can't see its relevance to security systems. Like its fellow corvid and burglar alarm star the magpie, it's a scavenger and wily thief, associated with dead spirits and evil deeds, so hardly great protection material. Sure, ravens are famed for "protecting" the crown jewels by not flying away from the Tower of London – but that's just a stupid Victorian marketing tale. More prosaically, this is probably the proprietor's surname – which in medieval times referred to a dark-haired, thievish type, so still not very appropriate. Uncanny coincidence: ravens are so clever they're known to use twigs as toys, and there's a twig lodged behind this bell box. So maybe a real raven put it there. • Spotted: Marygate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Raven”, York: common thief

“King Security Ltd”, Sheffield: Shakespearean

"King Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Sheffield • A caged King in Campo Lane – there's something rather Shakespearean about that. It's on a little old-fashioned jewellers called DH Baines & Co; the spire reflected in the window belongs to Sheffield Cathedral, which was opposite (and probably still is). • Spotted: Campo Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“King Security Ltd”, Sheffield: Shakespearean

“Panther security.co.uk”, Reigate: Countdown

"Panther security.co.uk" burglar alarm, Reigate • Not quite as impressive a design as yesterday's stencilled panther, though it does fall into the popular category of "vision", which I have yet to explore on this blog. For years I had a photo of a rectangular version of this alarm reading "ANTHER", because the left side was obscured; I couldn't work out what the name meant, and it only recently dawned on me that there was a letter "P" in the eye, and so the full word must be Panther. Then the other month I stumbled across this, proving myself correct. But clearly I would be crap on Countdown• Spotted: High Street, Reigate, Surrey, RH2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Reigate
“Panther security.co.uk”, Reigate: Countdown

“Panther Security”, Rugby: pedantic

"Panther Security" burglar alarm, Rugby • This streetwise, stencilled logo looks like an identity for a computer war game, or a brand of outdoors wear. To be pedantic, the panther is not a specific species, but a blanket term for big cats in general, such as jaguars, cougars, or leopards. The black panther is the "melanistic" variant of these, the small percentage with a very dark pigment – usually jaguars or leopards, which have long been bred in captivity for their beauty – and the word "panther" is often used to refer to these inky beasts in particular. This is most clearly a black panther, so assuming the security firm isn't paying homage to the militant African American revolutionary group, it's actually a leopard or a jaguar. This one can be found stalking along Sheep Street, Rugby – which is perhaps why there aren't any actual sheep there. • Spotted: Sheep Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rugby A real black panther, ie a melanistic jaguar (photo by Cburnett)
“Panther Security”, Rugby: pedantic

“Secure-a-site”, Chelsea: 1980s robot lion

"Secure-a-site" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • My third and final lion for now is a windswept Heathcliff of a fellow, with 1980s "big hair", and red eyes that suggest he's possibly a laser-beam-firing robot. In reality, male lions are hindered by their manes, so it's lionesses that do the bulk of the hunting. Instead, the blokes spend the vast proportion of their time sleeping, and the rest fighting each other, which is why most of them die young. A small number are man-eaters, but my in-depth readings of Wikipedia suggest that Panthera leo is in no other way suitable as a security creature, and especially not up scaffolding, where this firm specialises. Nevertheless, as a popular icon from cave paintings onwards, and generally representing strength and nobility, it's fairly obvious why someone would put the so-called "king of the beasts" on their sounder. I have found several other alarm lions, but they are all in heraldic style, and so awaiting another theme. Interestingly, I have never yet found a Tiger security device – and those are even bigger and bitier, being the largest of the "roaring" cats. • Spotted: Beauchamp Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington Above: a real lion (photo by Trisha M Shears)
“Secure-a-site”, Chelsea: 1980s robot lion

“Jaguar Alarm Company”, Islington

"Jaguar Alarm Company" burglar alarm, Islington • This is a confident piece of lettering, with a speedy, fluent line that well suggests the fluid motion of a big cat. (Or possibly a big car.) The animal it represents is, according to Wikipedia, a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain; it has jaws stronger than a lion's, and kills by biting directly into the brain of its prey. All of which conjures up some pretty unsavoury images of this security firm's practices, despite their jaunty logo. • Spotted: Paget Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury A real jaguar (photo by USFWS)
“Jaguar Alarm Company”, Islington

“Gecko Properties”, Bristol: self-amputation

"Gecko Properties" burglar alarm, Bristol • I love this! It's so weird, a splay-footed little gecko scampering up a cracked wall via a burglar alarm, bringing a touch of the tropical to Bristol. As to the gecko's suitability for anti-crime duties, well, it hunts at night, can sneak along walls and ceilings, and has no eyelids, so it's always on the lookout. It also shits on its aggressors and, in extremis, self-amputates its tail. Much more useful than a fox• Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: a real gecko (photo by ZooFari)
“Gecko Properties”, Bristol: self-amputation

“Fox Systems”, York: hatless

"Fox Systems" burglar alarm, York • Perhaps it's a bit soon to revisit this particular fox, which I pictured with a hat of pigeon spikes a couple of weeks ago. But I really like this alarm, and I wanted to show it without a crown. It's a clean and stylish design, although – being super-niggly – I would have preferred centered type (look closely, and you'll see it's ranged left). • Spotted: Swinegate Court East, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Fox Systems”, York: hatless

“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

"BBB Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Lisa from The Simpsons once impressed infatuated thicko Ralph Wiggum with a card reading "let's bee friends" (pictured below) – which sadly, like the hopeless Ralph, I find incredibly funny. But it doesn't get to the tragicomic nub of this sweetly silly logo, whose deceptively jolly graphics mask the spectre of death: for to be truly effective, these cheery charging arthropods must surely forfeit their lives with their stings. A profound message indeed for a burglar alarm, and one that Shakespeare might have summed up on a greetings card as "To BBB or not to BBB?" • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: Ralph's bee card and a real bee (photo by Thomas Tolkien)
“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

“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

“MR”, Islington: ultimate deterrent

"MR Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Finally, the ultimate nightmare – when pigeon spikes stop working. This row of shops was encrusted with spikes, but also with bird poo. Time to call in the hawks...  • Spotted: Stroud Green Road, Islington, London, N4, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North Above: a hawk – the ultimate pigeon deterrent
“MR”, Islington: ultimate deterrent

“Fox”, York: screeching stalker

"Fox Systems" burglar alarm, York • This alarm just looks like someone stuck a load of giant hatpins on it, though the stalking fox lends an air of surrealism. (The fox is a popular burglar alarm beast, as I shall illustrate soon.) My local area is aswarm with both foxes and pigeons, whose habits of night time screeching and daytime shitting are not a great combination. I blame Ken Livingstone, who had the pigeons chased away from Trafalgar Square with hawks. They all ended up on my balcony, and presumably the foxes followed. • Spotted: Swinegate Court East, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Fox”, York: screeching stalker

“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

Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: last link

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This is my last locksmithery post for now, and I can't pretend it's been an rivetting theme. Some of the imagery has been quite nice, but I've certainly run out of things to say about chains. I found this in White Post Lane near Hackney Wick, one of the entry points to the Olympic Park. At the moment it's an area of picturesque ruins, colonised by artists' studios, and very photogenic; catch it while you can, because apparently it's soon to be as blandified as the rest of the new-build area. Although I haven't photographed many alarms actually in Essex (as I never seem to go there), I've got loads of from Essex Security Services, because East London is positively bristling with them. The firm's still going strong, with a very different design, but this is an early example – I'll be posting another, more violent, variation in a few days. Coming tomorrow: pigeon problems, principally poo. • Spotted: White Post Lane, Tower Hamlets, London E9, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: last link

“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

“Mayfair Selby”, York: football fixture

"Mayfair Selby" burglar alarm, York • Here's an updated, unfaded version of yesterday's identity, with a double helping of chain-draped heraldry, and traces of a less curvaceous bell box behind it. It's still quite old, because the firm is now called Mayfair Security and uses a different typeface (Officina, font fans), though the shield remains. The wall behind the sounder is red because it's part of York City FC's stadium – a visit to which was reparation for subjecting my football-addicted travelling companion to endless bouts of burglar alarm photography (and the being shouted at that goes with it). • Spotted: York City FC, Bootham Crescent, York, Yorkshire, YO30, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Mayfair Selby”, York: football fixture

“Mayfair Selby” label, York: faded chains

"Mayfair Selby" label on "York Alarm Centre" burglar alarm, York • Now we move from locks to chains, of which this is a particularly heraldic example. It once said Mayfair Selby, though the red text has long ago faded away; and by the magic of Photoshop, I have also discovered that the alarm underneath says York Alarm Centre, which presumably exists no more. A security system palimpsest, if you will. • Spotted: Shipton Street, York, Yorkshire, YO30, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Mayfair Selby” label, York: faded chains

“The London Lock Shop”, Tower Hamlets: minimal

"The London Lock Shop" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This escapes the boring category of yesterday's alarm by virtue of being so basic it's practically a minimalist work of art (and in fact it does rather resemble a slogan piece by Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner). Appropriately it was found between two minimalistically-inclined contemporary art galleries, Herald Street and Maureen Paley. Both occupy ex-industrial units in the same gentrifying but still-gritty East End backstreet; neighbours include car workshops, small wholesalers, and a very noisy evangelical church, also in an industrial unit. In other words, a prime hunting ground for ancient sounders such as this. I'm often struck by the beauty of bricks when photographing burglar alarms, and am intrigued by the herringbone-textured ones behind this, which are of a type I haven't noticed before. I can't find any relevant info on Google, though I presume they're just cheap industrial stock – it's that kind of road. • Spotted: Herald Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“The London Lock Shop”, Tower Hamlets: minimal

“Classic Security”, Camden: a witty match

"www.Classic-Security.com" burglar alarm, Camden • How perfect is this? Such a witty match between burglar alarm and business can be no coincidence. Not only does Classic Security's name allude to the shop it protects, which specialises in ancient Greek-style gifts, but the Parthenon logo that decorates it looks just like the portico of the grand building opposite: that neo-classical repository of Greek and Roman loot, The British Museum. Not quite mythology perhaps, but a nice summation of the subject. Tomorrow: the Zodiac (so more mythology, really). • Spotted: Bury Place, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: It's All Greek (left), a gift shop in Bloomsbury, whose classical burglar alarm matches the building opposite (right) – The British Museum
“Classic Security”, Camden: a witty match

“Cannon” and “BAC”, Bristol: changing faces

"Cannon Bristol" and "BAC Fire and Security" burglar alarms, Bristol • A Cannon alarm surreally framed by two laurel-wreathed romanesque heads on a typically splendid Bristol building, which was pretty grimy when I first came across it in 2006 (top pic). I went back recently to see how it had fared, and discovered a spruced-up facade, and a change of alarm (middle pic) – in pictorial terms, I preferred the old Cannon. The building itself (bottom) is magnificent and strange, and features another pair of heads on the right, depicting a veiled woman and a wild-bearded man. The building's current occupier, a hairdresser, is appropriate to the heads, but I'd love to know who it was built for: some Victorian business with links in Araby, presumably. • Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2006 and 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Cannon” and “BAC”, Bristol: changing faces

“Sentry Alarms”, Rugby: guarding Gas Street

"Sentry Alarms" burglar alarm, Rugby • An elderly alarm on a house that looks beyond burglary. This was found in the famous public school town of Rugby (birthplace of the boring game), where even decay in a road called Gas Street looks salubrious. In my experience, industrial sounding locations like Ferry Road, Electric Avenue or Gas Street always prove to be interesting; places with posh names like Manor Road are generally downmarket (there will be an example soon); and you can always park in Park Street. Fact! • Spotted: Gas Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rugby
“Sentry Alarms”, Rugby: guarding Gas Street

“Advanced Security”, Bristol: Georgian splendour

"Advanced Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Advanced alarm, ancient door. Like the wall behind Knight in Kilburn, it wouldn't look out of place in Renaissance Italy, though it's actually next door to a decaying industrial unit on the edge of one of the grittier parts of Bristol. The holes on either side of the stoop perhaps once held railings, though I prefer to imagine them as Georgian twin cat-flaps, or plus-size burrows for Banksy's never-ending parade of graffiti rats (he does come from Bristol, after all). • Spotted: Surrey Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Advanced Security”, Bristol: Georgian splendour

“AIJ Security Centre”, Reigate: wonky lichen

"AIJ Security Centre" burglar alarm, Reigate • Despite having ancient roots, the prosperous Surrey town of Reigate is dominated by undistinguished architecture, a legacy of philistine planning. Yet amidst the sea of dullness remains the occasional interesting building, like this wonky old wall opposite a car park, melded in true Reigate style between two utterly suburban additions. Even the alarm box is growing lichen in protest. Older readers may be slightly interested to know that famed UK broadcaster Cliff Michelmore, who hosted the BBC's Apollo Moon landings coverage, used to live in this street. • Spotted: Upper West Street, Reigate, Surrey, RH2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Reigate
“AIJ Security Centre”, Reigate: wonky lichen

“Modern Alarms”, York: an ancient survival

"Modern Alarms" burglar alarm, York • Ancient and modern, in perfect harmony. The colours are as found: the once-yellow Modern box really has faded to the same sepia tones as York's venerable bricks. The constituency, meanwhile, is a tiny island of Labour red in a sea of true blue Tory. There's more on the history of Modern Alarms here• Spotted: Aldwark, York, North Yorkshire, YO1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Modern Alarms”, York: an ancient survival

“Lander Alarms”, Lambeth: sepia symphony

"Lander Alarms" burglar alarm, Southwark • Depending on how you look at it, urban decay can be grotty or beautiful, and I err on the side of the latter. I got into documenting burglar alarms via photographing old buildings, and there's nothing I like more than a faded, forgotten corner – which is of course the vintage alarm's natural habitat. This photo looks like I hit the "sepia" button, but the scene really was these colours – even the Lander logo had faded to brown. It's above an arch of the immense railway viaduct which snakes south of the Thames from Bermondsey via London Bridge and Waterloo to Vauxhall. A lot of the arches have become quite smart and trendy (no bad thing if you live in the area), but happily this backwater of Lambeth still sports some authentic picturesque grubbiness. • Spotted: Newport Street, Lambeth, London, SE11, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Lander Alarms”, Lambeth: sepia symphony

“Banham”, Lambeth: posh alarm, rough niche

"Banham" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This is brilliant – a posh Banham alarm in the most rough-and-ready bespoke niche. I found it on the wall of Pimlico Plumbers, who despite their toney SW1 name are located in the distinctly less upmarket area of Kennington, on the other side of the River Thames. • Spotted: Sail Street, Lambeth, London, SE11, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Banham”, Lambeth: posh alarm, rough niche

“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow

"Magpie Services" burglar alarm, Camden • Two security tropes for the price of one: a thieving magpie, and a garland of locksmithery (a subject I shall cover soon). I can't let my final magpie pass without remembering the rhyme famous from classic 1970s kids' TV show Magpie: "One for sorrow / Two for joy / Three for a girl / Four for a boy / Five for silver / Six for gold / Seven for a secret never to be told / Ma-a-a-aaaag-piiiiiiiiie!". Those too young to remember the tune can revisit Magpie's brilliant 1970s opening sequence, sung by the Spencer Davis Group, here• Spotted: Marchmont Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow

“Macaw”, Nottingham: where’s my perch?

"Macaw Security" burglar alarm, Nottingham • The brightly-plumaged macaw protects its nest with aggressive wing-flapping and a raucous screech, presumably the rationale for its use on an alarm. This unhappy creature has been transplanted from a tropical forest to Nottingham Forest (well, nearby); hunched sullenly in thin air, it's been deprived of both colour and perch. Maybe they got nicked – it seems I'd stumbled into some kind of crime paranoia hot-spot. Shortly after photographing this I was chased down the road by a raucously screeching homeowner, who was convinced I'd been casing the joint; she claimed her large and impressive villa had recently been broken into four times, despite having a burglar alarm. Not this one, I hasten to add. • Spotted: Mansfield Road, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Nottingham East
“Macaw”, Nottingham: where’s my perch?

“Dove”, Rugby: the burglar alarm of peace

"Dove Security Systems" burglar alarm, Rugby • An unusual bird choice for an anti-theft device: the allegedly sweet-natured dove, traditional symbol of peace and love. The simplified dove-with-olive-branch graphic popular with peace movements today derives from a post-WWII design by Picasso, but even though this photo is blurred (the alarm was really high up and shot at dusk), I can tell it's not one of Pablo's. Presumably that is an olive branch in its beak, though it looks more like a leech – which would be appropriate to represent a burglar, but seems unlikely. Technically, as a branch of the Columbidae family, the dove is just a small non-feral pigeon. But "Small Non-Feral Pigeon Security Systems" doesn't have quite the same ring. • Spotted: Market Place, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rugby
“Dove”, Rugby: the burglar alarm of peace

“Minder”, Lambeth: knackered nuclear device

Minder burglar alarm Lambeth 2011"Minder" burglar alarm, Lambeth • With its red button light and circuit-laced dial, this it looks like the decaying control panel for some superannuated nuclear device, and is the first of this design I've come across. I only found it yesterday, on some railway arches near one of Damien Hirst's many studios; if I'd discovered it earlier I'd have posted it after the Crime Fighter alarm, whose graphics so reminded me of The Sweeney's opening credits. Comedy crime caper Minder was Euston Films' equally classic follow-up, and also starred Dennis Waterman, albeit on the other side of the law – he played Terry McCann, minder of small-time spiv Arthur Daley, for those too young to remember. Minder was big in the 1980s, and though I'm no expert in electronics, the antique wiring on display here appears of the same vintage as Tel-boy's Ford Capri, and the graphics even older. I only hope Damien Hirst appreciates having such an unusual vintage alarm box opposite his premises. • Spotted: Newport Street, Lambeth, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Minder burglar alarm Lambeth 2011
“Minder”, Lambeth: knackered nuclear device