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Lion

Fife Alarms, Edinburgh: shrieky

Fife Alarms "Fife Alarms" burglar alarm, Edinburgh • Another medieval instrument, and even shriller than the clarion, a fife is a small, shrieky flute beloved of marching bands. It's also a place in Scotland of course, which is probably what this alarm was named after. • Spotted: Howe Street, Edinburgh, EH3, Scotland, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Edinburgh North and Leith
Fife Alarms, Edinburgh: shrieky

“Security Ltd”, City of London: lions passant

"Security Ltd" burglar alarm, City of London • This shows three lions "passant", as on the Royal Arms of England, dating from the 1198 Great Seal of the Realm. How things last: if only the seal's first owner, Richard I, could have known the design would endure to enhance burglar alarms and football kit over 800 years later. Oddly, there's no actual firm's name on this, unless they're just called Security Limited. Maybe they are. • Spotted: Aldersgate Street, City of London, London, EC1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Security Ltd”, City of London: lions passant

“Wright Security”, Lewisham: lion rampant

"Wright Security" burglar alarm, Lewisham • This heraldic lion is similar to yesterday's, only facing the other way, and punching rather than slashing with its paw. Known as a "lion rampant", it's a venerable heraldic device that has been used to represent England since Norman times – though because of the colour scheme, this looks more Scottish to me. • Spotted: Deptford Bridge, Lewisham, London, SE8, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford
“Wright Security”, Lewisham: lion rampant

Sheba Alarms”, Southwark: non-rottweiller

"Sheba Alarms" burglar alarm, Southwark • I used to live in a really tough part of London where everyone had rottweilers, and they were all – depending on if they were boys or girls – called Tyson or Sheba. The dogs, that is. However this is a lion, and Sheba was a biblical land (probably Yemen), so either this is a lion of the desert, or the designer thought it was a mutt. • Spotted: Dolben Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Sheba Alarms”, Southwark: non-rottweiller

“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

“New Century Security”, Bristol: double whammy

"New Century Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • This is a double whammy: a shield-within-shield logo. And not just that, but a gauntlet clutching a lightning bolt, a rampant lion, a window at night (I think), a repetition of their name, and what looks like the European stars. There's even another version with "21st" above the title, just in case you thought the new century was the 18th. Talk about covering all the bases. • Spotted: Surrey Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“New Century Security”, Bristol: double whammy

“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

“Gardner”, Gloucester: wrong kind of gardener

"Gardner Security" burglar alarm, Gloucester • Finally, a gardener to keep up with all these botanical sounders – though one with poor spelling, and in possession of a lion. I assumed it was this Gardner Security, who lasted from 1981 to 2010, then became subsumed by Christie Intruder Alarms, the 42-year-old firm behind the famous CIA "crouching man" sounders. But a comment below tells me that this is a different Gardner Security, of Gloucester – who sold to Modern in the 1990s, thus ending up as part of ADT So now you know. • Spotted: Town centre, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Gloucester
“Gardner”, Gloucester: wrong kind of gardener

“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

“Sterling Security”, Southend-on-Sea: unpolished

"Sterling Security" burglar alarm, Southend-on-Sea • We've had three gem alarms, and now their perfect setting – three precious metals. First up is sterling, a term denoting silver hardened with a small amount of another metal, as pure silver is too soft to fashion into useful items. It's an ancient standard, one which has been regulated from Saxon times at least, and subject to an official assay mark since the 12th century. Add a heraldic lion – a very common burglar alarm trope that I'll cover further one day – and this Sterling sounder suggests an alloy of Britishness, quality, longevity and reliability. Just a pity it hasn't had a polish recently. • Spotted: Town centre, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rochford and Southend East
“Sterling Security”, Southend-on-Sea: unpolished

“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

“Locktec Security Group”, Camden: yawning

"Locktec Security Group" burglar alarm, Camden • A while back I posted an ultra-boring Locktec alarm consisting of dull blue lettering, but if this is the same firm they seem to have reincarnated as a fierce, roaring lion. Or perhaps it's yawning – I certainly am, because I'm still on a deadline (and it's got nothing to do with burglar alarms). I quite like these rather rare curved hexagon boxes – sort of a new-fangled update on the classic Modern / ADT look. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Locktec Security Group”, Camden: yawning

“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

“Britannia Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: pre-war

"Britannia Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Today I'm launching the theme that originally got me interested in the idea of seriously documenting and categorising burglar alarms, namely designs evoking World War Two in some way. The Britannia alarm shown here isn't specifically WWII-related, but the Union Jack-decorated letter B conjoined with a heraldic lion is certainly patriotic, and sums up the Fortress Britain (or, less kindly, Little England) mentality that seemed prevalent in the late 1990s when I first started noticing – and, not long after, photographing – these bizarre building adornments. This example is spruce and pristine, in what I like to think of as a "pre-war" state; but there are many more bruised and battered "post-war" Britannias to be found, one of which I'll feature at the end of this category. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Britannia Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: pre-war