OTS, Hanley Road, Islington, London, N4, England, 2010 • Similar to this, which boasts a logo on the owl’s chest. Advertisements
Security Wise, Leg Street, Oswestry, Shropshire, 2014 • And an older Security Wise of the “baton” type, which actually looks like a takeover label.
Security Wise, Windsor Place, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, 2014 • A better shot than the one here.
“Owl Alarms” burglar alarm, Bristol • Very popular alarm bird – there’s another version of this firm’s bell box here. • Spotted: Baldwin Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: […]
“Civic Security” burglar alarm, Hackney • Similar but with no owl and a graffiti sticker here; and a very vintage one here. • Spotted: Broadway Market, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2005 • […]
“Safe Sound Ltd Security Systems Approved Nacoss Installer” burglar alarm, Southwark • Nice old box, I always like a giant key drawing. • Spotted: Long Lane, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 […]
“Security Wise Ltd” burglar alarm, Shrewsbury • A wise owl, geddit? • Spotted: Castle Street, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1, England, 2014 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Shrewsbury and Atcham
“Spitfire Security Systems” burglar alarm, Camden • Caged behind a ridiculously narrow balcony. • Spotted: Fitzroy Street, Camden, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and […]
"Wessex Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Shaftesbury • I first featured the Wessex owl here, and it's one of my all-time favourites. The firm has just updated their identity, so I'm happy to report that they've kept the wise old bird: far more charming the fierce beasts popular in more urban areas, and an appealing contrast to the dull corporate-type bell box designs that seem to be proliferating. • Spotted: Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of North Dorset
"Owl Alarms" burglar alarm, Exeter • As far as burglar alarm beasts are concerned, you can't go far wrong with the wise, night-hunting owl. Although this old example is so faded it's hard to see the illustration, I assure you it's a cutie. • Spotted: South Street, Exeter, Devon, EX1, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Exeter
"Bell Alarms" burglar alarm, Glasgow • I've already featured many a bell, and here's a wonky angular one bearing the Scottish flag and a tiny owl. So, it probably doesn't sound that great. • Spotted: Saucihall Street, Glasgow, G2, Scotland, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
"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
"Security Services" burglar alarm, Stoke-On-Trent • You may disagree, but I contend that this represents the face of an owl. An owl made of rope, with the initials SS for eyes, to be sure – but still distinctly an owl, down to the suggestion of ears. Yes, it could be a kinky bra, or a pair of goggles, or just a knot – but that wouldn't be so burglar alarmish. I rest my case. • Spotted: Hanley town centre, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Stoke on Trent Central
"Wessex Alarms" burglar alarm, Salisbury • Wessex is the historical stomping ground of the West Saxons, a place name which long predates the invention of burglar alarms, if not owls. But although it is the sharply-drawn setting for Thomas Hardy's depressing bucolic novels, and sounds like a county to rival Sussex, Middlesex and Essex, in administrative terms Wessex doesn't actually exist. The proud name lives on, however, in the collective consciousness of a large swathe of south-western England, and is used to brand everything from radio stations to colleges to – as here – burglar alarms. Wiltshire, the "Wessex" county where I found this, is famed for its neolithic standing stones and bony, chalky hills – an ancient and mysterious landscape, at its most other-worldly by twilight. So a silhouetted owl seems appropriate, though being perched cutely on a 1970s disco-style logo somewhat detracts from the atmosphere. • Spotted: Town centre, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Devizes
"OTS" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A chubby owl sitting on a giant key in front of a crescent moon – how sweet is this? The initials OTS are branded on the owl's breast and below its feet, but there's no clue as to what this unexplained acronym stands for. The firm itself is equally mysterious; all I can discover is that it was once based in the Northumberland Park area of Tottenham, London, and by the noughties had merged with a Chingford company called Davenheath. The 081 number dates it as pre-1995, and there's also a later 0181 numbered version which must be pre-2000. On this latter iteration, the key, moon and chest tattoo are gone, and the owl is simply perched on a big OTS logo. It was probably meant to look more sophisticated – but, charmingly, it still looks just as much like a children's book illustration. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
"Owl Alarm Systems Westerham" burglar alarm, Southwark • Having spent the last couple of weeks researching the tangled corporate histories of modernist-styled alarms, I've decided to take things easier for a while by writing about birds. Our feathered friends are very popular on alarms, with plenty of hawkish hunters and thieving magpies, but many less obvious suspects too, such as ducks, swans and doves. Owls cover all the alarm bird bases: they're wise, they catch prey at night, and they're cute too. One of my favourites is this charming 1970s-style drawing reminiscent of the early work of illustrator Jan Pienkowski (famous for his Meg, Mog and Og kids' books). Brilliantly, the owl has got a little light in each of its eyes: if you look closely, you can see that the left one is lit up red, while the right one is off. It's winking at us! • Spotted: Sawyer Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark