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“Nu-Tron”, Tower Hamlets: thermonuclear device

"Nu-Tron Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Thanks to various commenters, I now know that Nu-Tron is the successor company to yesterday's M-Tronic, and you can certainly see the resemblance in the big rounded initial. It's an unusual shape of box which I've not featured before, and anything called Nu-Tron that looks more like an Old-Tron simply demands to be put in the "retro-futurist" category. But as for naming your sounders after a thermonuclear device specifically designed to kill all nearby humans while leaving buildings standing? A bit extreme, surely. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Nu-Tron”, Tower Hamlets: thermonuclear device

“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

“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

“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

“Kings”, Westminster: lit from within

"Kings" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This is a late entrant to the royalty theme, which I found just the other evening. The logo suggests this is the same firm featured here, albeit without the crown. What's incredibly hard to show in a photo is that this sounder's lit up inside, glowing like a beacon in the dark. The photo below shows how it really looked, and the one under that was taken with flash to show the sounder's details. There are lots of these internally lit alarms around these days – it's the latest trend – but the difficulty of photographing in the dark has stopped me from featuring them. • Spotted: Bruton Place, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Kings”, Westminster: lit from within

“Imperial”, Bristol: Ballardian Chinese take-away

"Imperial" burglar alarm, Bristol • Yet another Imperial, and though it looks completely different from yesterday's, I'm guessing it's the same firm in an earlier guise. It's most incongruous for a Bristol burglar alarm: a Chinese house against a big round moon, or perhaps it's a Japanese-style rising (or setting) sun of empire. To me, it can only conjure up JG Ballard's brilliant fictive memoir Empire of the Sun, based on his childhood in Japanese-occupied WWII Shanghai – and of course WWII is a popular alarm trope. But for a security device this is a very fanciful design, and one more suited to a Chinese take-away. Taking away isn't a good connotation for a burglar alarm, so I'm not surprised it got changed.• Spotted: Clifton area, Bristol, Avon, BS8, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Imperial”, Bristol: Ballardian Chinese take-away

“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

“Sovereign Security”, Bristol: god bless Queen Vic

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

“Sovereign Fire & Security”, Bristol: apposite address

"Sovereign Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • A much more recent bell box from yesterday's Sovereign Security, found in the appropriate surrounds of Queen Square. It's similar to the "middle period" Sovereign I published many months ago here, except with an F instead of an S in the circle, and the addition of "Fire" to the name – a trend that seems to have been creeping in with other firms too. Rather tragically, I photographed this on New Years Day, which makes it my first-ever alarm from 2012. I really should have better things to do with my time. • Spotted: Queen Square, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Sovereign Fire & Security”, Bristol: apposite address

“Regal Security Systems”, Hackney: missing monarch

"Regal Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • Yesterday I posted a Regal sticker, and today here's an actual sounder, of the classic 1980s design that looks like a clock-radio when mounted horizontally. I've searched for this firm on the internet but turned up nothing whatsoever, so presumably they were bought out before the world wide web got popular. Which means I will never get to find out what the big fat "W" in the logo stands for – and whether it's meant to resemble a crown. (Update: if you check the comment below and here, the mystery is solved –  Regal was originally Wimpey, and in 2001 sold out to ADT. Which makes it surprising I couldn't track down any info on Google, because 2001 isn't that long ago.) • Spotted: Hackney area, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Regal Security Systems”, Hackney: missing monarch

“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

“Crown Security Systems”, Hounslow: bleak and bland

"Crown Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hounslow • I'm already getting confused by the plethora of regal firms, so I've just looked up this particular Crown Security Systems to discover they were formed in 1982, and are based in Merton, South London. This bland crown is another that looks more like a jester's hat, and was shot on what I now remember to be a bleak and unhappy winter's day – it's amazing how even the most basic of photos can bring memories back of a whole walk. Its location, Chiswick Mall, sounds like a horrible shopping centre but is in fact a picturesque promenade of large Georgian houses facing the Thames at Chiswick, blighted only be Heathrow-bound jets thundering past at what sounds like nose-level every two minutes. • Spotted: Chiswick Mall, Hounslow, London, W4, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brentford and Isleworth
“Crown Security Systems”, Hounslow: bleak and bland

“Crown Securities”, Stoke: save the Wedgwood!

"Crown Securities" burglar alarm, Stoke-On-Trent • My excuse for this one being blurred is that it was high up on a horrible pub and I just snapped it while I was scurrying past, feeling slightly beleaguered. For, contrary to what it says beneath the only remotely accurate rendition of a non-panto crown I've come across so far, there are no securities in Stoke. At least I was lucky enough to see the fantastic Wedgwood Museum while I was up there, something which should belong to the nation, but whose collection is about to be sold off due to (simplistically) Robert Maxwell's pension fund rapacity, a poorly-drafted law, and some naive financial management by the museum's trustees. Which is tragic and disgraceful, as the Wedgwood Museum is one of the few uplifting and tourist-enticing things in what is, with no disrespect intended, a pretty grim and depleted area. There's a campaign to save the Wedgwood here: it isn't a very good website unfortunately, but anyone concerned about our future heritage should try and wade their way through its templates and send a letter to the relevant MPs it suggests. There's also a billionaire white knight in the offing – Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who grew up in Stoke – but it shouldn't have come to this. Hmmm, Jan 7th and already off topic... and I said I wasn't going to write much this year! • Spotted: Hanley town centre, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Stoke on Trent Central
“Crown Securities”, Stoke: save the Wedgwood!

“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

"Crown" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I debated whether to put this in, because it's almost the same as yesterday's, and I said my somewhat irascible piece about crowns then. However, at the risk of being hoist by my own anti-History Channel petard, this is a sad example of how burglar alarm design degenerated from its glory days of sturdy metal boxes and proud ridged roundels to the tacky, plasticky nothings that booted them out. Look how much worse this weedy update has worn and faded than yesterday's fine original. And as for the bland corporate font – it doesn't even conjure up the Nazis! And what kind of a sorry excuse for a burglar alarm is that? • Spotted: Horseferry Road, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

“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

“Kings”, Hackney: what about queens?

"Kings" burglar alarm, Hackney • Not just one, but many monarchs share the crown to this security firm. The name also ties into Christmas 2011's Christian (or, if you want to be pedantic, Judaeo-Christian) theme, due to its no doubt inadvertent reference to the Book of Kings – which does not return the compliment by mentioning burglar alarms. More prosaically, the owner is probably a Mr Kings – or, if he's bad at punctuation, Mr King – a surname which, like so many in the UK, originates from a medieval nickname, this time for one of kingly demeanour. It may be common on burglar alarms simply because, despite its regal pretensions, it's a common name; but it also handily illustrates the ego-puffing old saw that an Englishman's home is his castle, with each regally branded burglar alarm suggesting that the security-conscious homeowner is, in essence, a little monarch. Which is leaves a gap in the market for bell boxes aimed at socially-aspirant women, because I've never come across any labelled Queen. • Spotted: Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Kings”, Hackney: what about queens?

“King Security”, Sheffield: Jason King, that is

"King Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Sheffield • Only a small crown for this bell box, whose design recalls a kind of 1960s retro-grooviness, or possibly cheap frozen food packaging. It somehow makes me think of hirsute '70s TV detective Jason King: that's him, down below. • Spotted: Wicker, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central Above: Peter Wyngarde, plus inadvisable facial hair, as Jason King. Calm down, ladies!
“King Security”, Sheffield: Jason King, that is

“Monarch”, East Grinstead: bring on the crowns

"Monarch Security & Fire" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Well, amazingly I've managed to keep this blog going for a whole year, and after posting north of 365 different burglar alarms I still have a vast amount yet to feature (don't all cheer at once). So, seeing as it's a leap year, here's to the next 366 alarms. But I do actually have a bit of a life too (just a bit), so from today I've changed the format slightly in order that I don't always have to write so much about each one. I'll still be posting in series of themes, as taxonomy was always the point of this blog, and I'll introduce each theme as before. But, if I haven't got anything to much say about a particular alarm – other than that it fits within the genre – then I'll keep it very brief. I would still appreciate comments however, and will be reading them all avidly and answering where appropriate as I do now. Following on from yesterday's vintage Royale, the first theme of 2012 is "Royalty" – which, as well as being appropriate for this jubilee year, is one of the security world's most enduringly popular tropes, preferably accompanied, as here, by a hefty old crown. Oh, and notice the aptly regal address – not the last I'll feature, as royal British road names aren't exactly rare. • Spotted: Queens Walk, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid 
“Monarch”, East Grinstead: bring on the crowns

“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?

“Godbold & Co”, Lowestoft: good God

"Godbold & Co Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lowestoft • OK, so it's a bit tenuous for the Christian theme, but it does namecheck the "big daddy" in the sky. The picturesque surname Godbold dates back to medieval times, when "god" meant "good", and translates as "good brave", or "good dwelling" – both totally appropriate for a security device. God is good, indeed. • Spotted: Town centre, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Waveney
“Godbold & Co”, Lowestoft: good God

“Summa”, Aylesbury: theological treatise

"Summa" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • There's a learned Christian reference here, possibly unintentional: the Summa Theologica, aka the Summa, was a major religious tract by 13th-century philosopher Thomas Aquinas, hugely influential despite being unfinished. In it, he attempted to sum up all of Christian theology to that date, and present five infallible arguments for the existence of God. In broader terms, Summa could refer to a summary of anything; but the mountain-like triangle suggests it is meant in its Latin sense, "summit". Unless it's a weird masonic symbol representing the Holy Trinity, which I very much doubt. • Spotted: Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury
“Summa”, Aylesbury: theological treatise

“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

“Aaron”, Bristol: biblical bigwig

"Aaron Hi-Tech" burglar alarm, Bristol • Although not much feted in western Christianity, Aaron – Moses' elder brother and the first high priest of the Israelites – is a big player in Judaism and Islam, and a major saint across the lands of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He's a popular subject in gorgeous Russian icons, but in western art is rarely depicted, with the lone pinnacle being Pier Francesco Mola’s recently discovered “Aaron, Holy to the Lord” (below), painted around 1650. The magnificent old master shows a severe-faced Aaron carrying out his sacred duties on Yom Kippur, aided by nothing more hi-tech than a silver censer and a big hat – suggesting this alarm suffers from an extreme misnomer. • Spotted: Town centre, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: Aaron, east and west. Left: an 18th-century icon from Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia. Right: Pier Francesco Mola's superb painting, "Aaron, Holy to the Lord", c.1650.
“Aaron”, Bristol: biblical bigwig

“Abel”, East Grinstead: biblical victim

"Abel Alarm" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • According to the Bible, Abel was the world's first murder victim, being the son of Adam and Eve who was slain by his brother Cain. This firm's memorable name is definitely a reference to the event, as recorded in this article I came across by an Abel employee. In it, the company's boss Peter Eyre explains that when he launched the firm in 1965, he wanted a name that would sit atop all alphabetical lists. "So obviously I was looking at AA," he is quoted as saying, "but that had already gone! Therefore, I picked up the Oxford Dictionary and came across Abel – who was the slayer of Cain. I thought that it was good to have a religious connection. In addition, the name Abel is at the top of the list…A followed by B. It infers and sounds like an alarm bell – A Bell! To sum up we as a company are very able…so that was it, I got it registered." So the name is Abel, able, alphabetical and a bell – which is all very clever, but maybe the interview was wrongly transcribed, because Abel didn't kill Cain, he was killed by him, becoming an eternal symbol of martyrdom. Whatever, my favourite placing of this biblical classic is above a door in Church Walk, shown below. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid Above: an old example of the biblical alarm aptly placed in Church Walk, Rugby
“Abel”, East Grinstead: biblical victim

“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

“Grange”, Old Amersham: monkish manor

"Grange" burglar alarm, Old Amersham • Home, home on the grange – a popular place name in England, and originally denoting the farming estate of a monastery, of which there were once squillions. Henry VIII seized them all at the dissolution of the monasteries, then doled out the land to his noble chums, hence the term's continuing association with manors and country houses today. Posh Old Amersham is exactly the kind of place you'd associate with burglar alarm-studded Tudorbethan granges, though this excellent ancient design is probably too modern for local tastes. • Spotted: Town centre, Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP7, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Grange”, Old Amersham: monkish manor

“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

“Hewes”, Newham: Jesus fish

"Hewes Security" burglar alarm, Newham • The branding of 40-year-old Essex-based firm Hewes includes an unambiguous "ichthys"  symbol, based on a Greek acronym early Christians used to recognise each other. Also known as the "Jesus Fish", its incorporation into logos is more common in the super-religious US, where enthusiastic use by fundamentalists and creationists has spawned a slew of parodies, such as a Darwin Fish, with legs; and a Trek Fish, which resembles the Starship Enterprise. In the UK, the sign is less controversial; in my experience, it's most often seen on the bumper of aged Nissan cars being erratically driven by hat-wearing folk, no doubt on the premise that Jesus will save them. • Spotted: High Street, Newham, London, E15, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham Above: alternate bumper stickers – a Darwin Fish, left; and a Trek Fish, right.
“Hewes”, Newham: Jesus fish

“ITS”, Hackney: blue crucifix

"ITS" burglar alarm, Hackney • I have come across quite a few burglar alarms that, wittingly or unwittingly, refer to Christian themes – so, as we're coming up to Christmas, now seems a good time to feature them. I don't know if this ITS monogram is intended to look like a big blue crucifix, but it certainly reads as one. The family firm behind the logo emphasise trustworthiness on their website, which explains that the acronym stands for "Integrity Technology Security". It would make a good choice for churches, so if there are any vicars reading this (unlikely, I feel), take note! • Spotted: Rivington Street, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“ITS”, Hackney: blue crucifix

Ex-alarm, Southwark: rusty remnant

Ex-burglar alarm, Southwark • Good news: this rusty old bell box remnant is the last "skeleton alarm" for now. The age and long, narrow shape suggest to me it may have been a Brocks, of which there are others in the area. Or perhaps it was a fire alarm? I await expert advice. • Spotted: Price's Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Ex-alarm, Southwark: rusty remnant

Ex-alarm, Lowestoft: fish fingery

Ex-burglar alarm, Lowestoft • This run-down shopfront in isolated Lowestoft doubles as an alarm graveyard, with two mosaic-filled ghosts flanking a cream plastic skeleton. There are no clues to the latter's identity, its only text being an impressed arrow and the word "up". Lowestoft fact: Birds Eye fish fingers are made there, in a factory which casts its fish fingery smell over the whole town. • Spotted: Town centre, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Waveney
Ex-alarm, Lowestoft: fish fingery

Ex-alarm, Hackney: robot skull

Ex-burglar alarm, Hackney • This ivory plastic skeleton suggests a robotic skull, and offers slightly more clues than yesterday's anonymous backplate. Peer closely and there's a maker's mark impressed top left, which reads "Designed and manufactured in England by Texecom registered design no 2036725" (I think). An easy clue for any experts out there! • Spotted: Clifton Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
Ex-alarm, Hackney: robot skull

Ex-alarm, Southwark: skeletons and ghosts

Ex-burglar alarm, Southwark • Ex-burglar alarms come in two forms: ghosts, where they've gone completely, leaving just a patch on the wall; and skeletons, where some of the casing remains. For the next five days I'm going to focus on the latter – and maybe some of the experts out there will be able to discern what model they were when intact (not that it will mean much to me). First up, a very anonymous metal backing plate from an office building in Southwark, with no identifying features other than random holes. • Spotted: King's Bench Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Ex-alarm, Southwark: skeletons and ghosts

“C&H” and nameless alarm, Sheffield: Victorian duo

"C&H Alarms" and nameless burglar alarm, Sheffield • Finally, not exactly a multiple, but such a nice pairing it looks deliberate – a fancy new C&H sounder on a charming pink wall, showing up its plain-faced companion on dowdy unpainted bricks, united by the curlicued Myrtles plaque, hovering like some protective Victorian auntie. (I'm wasted here – I should be writing hackneyed romantic fiction, not burglar alarm descriptions.) I found them near Hillsborough Stadium, home to Sheffield Wednesday, on an enforced tour of various football grounds – always fertile ground for burglar alarms too, fortunately. • Spotted: Parkside Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S6, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough
“C&H” and nameless alarm, Sheffield: Victorian duo

“ADT”, Hackney: Cyberman piping

"ADT" burglar alarms, Hackney • I spotted these above an art gallery (Hoxton Square's full of them), and though not quite as impressive as the Design Museum's "Daisy" ADTs, it still looks a bit like a crappy art installation. To put it in art-speak, there's a poignant narrative tension in the way the lower ADT has been eternally blocked from joining its elevated companion by the Cyberman-esque piping snuggling round its head. And there's a cubist element in the repeated angles reminiscent of Paul Noble's Nobson Newtown, an immense pencil-drawn metropolis of everyday turd-folk presented in isometric projection (I'm not making this up) ... surely a contender for the Turner Prize next year. OK, that's enough spurious justification of a boring shot of two ADT burglar alarms. • Spotted: Hoxton Square, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“ADT”, Hackney: Cyberman piping

“Alpha”, Manchester: flying ducks

"Alpha" burglar alarms, Manchester • The graphic designer in me enjoys seeing things neatly aligned, and these two random Alphas don't comply, looking like flying ducks missing a third bird. Fledgling burglar alarm engineers should take note: compare them with the preceeding carefully-considered compositions and see how much more pleasing sounders look when placed with architectural precision. • Spotted: Little Peter Street, Manchester, Lancashire, M15, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Manchester Central
“Alpha”, Manchester: flying ducks

“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

“AC Leigh”, Norwich: 1970s Habitat chic

"AC Leigh (Security)" burglar alarms, Norwich • Oooh, retro – 1970s Habitat chic comes to Norwich, as modelled by a neat pair of vintage sounders in orange and cream on a stained beige background. I'm guessing the top one's for burglars, the bottom one for fires. • Spotted: Town centre, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Norwich South
“AC Leigh”, Norwich: 1970s Habitat chic

“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

Nameless alarms, Lambeth: anonymous fortress

Nameless burglar alarms, Lambeth • Whereas yesterday's burglar alarms really were an art installation, these just look like one. They suddenly appeared atop a cute little renovated industrial block near where I live, back in the heady days when people were still redeveloping things and, for some reason, painting them all shiny blue. Given the building resembles a shoebox-sized concrete fortress, with apparently no windows, I'm surprised it needs one alarm, let alone four, though their anonymity at least matches the unit's inscrutable appearance. • Spotted: Carlisle Lane, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Nameless alarms, Lambeth: anonymous fortress

“ADT”, Southwark: daisy chain

"ADT" burglar alarms, Southwark • I often find clusters of bell boxes, but they're usually random and mis-matched. However now and then I come across groups of identical sounders arranged into geometrical compositions, which – to use a fine art term – I think of as burglar alarm "multiples". This one takes the biscuit: six plastic daisies with ADT alarms as their centres, dancing across a wide white wall. It was a temporary installation on the side of London's Design Museum in 2005, but I never found out what it was in aid of. I quite liked the mystery, but after 30 seconds on Google I've discovered it was Daisy T from Sweet Dreams Security, "the ADT alarmbox flower attachment [that] transforms your existing alarmbox from dull and dreary to chirpy and cheery". In the mid-noughties the firm, brainchild of ex-graphic designer Matthias Megyeri, made some amazingly cute security products – from a CCTV camera disguised as a cat and butterfly-studded razor wire to teddybear padlocks and heart-shaped chain links (which sounds more like high-end bondage gear than a burglar deterrent). Apparently Megyeri was struck by the bizarre mixture of security and kitsch he saw on London homes, as compared with his native Stuttgart in Germany – especially all the ADT sounders – and set out to combine the two "to change the visual language of security products from depressing to seriously humorous". • Spotted: Shad Thames, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“ADT”, Southwark: daisy chain

“Stevens Security”, St Albans: wrath of Zeus

"Stevens Security" burglar alarm, St Albans • Finally, the most emphatic and recent lightning strike of all, suggesting that if you tangle with Stevens Security, you'll make not just Steven but the mighty Zeus very, very cross. You'd certainly feel it if this hefty black arrow of a thunderbolt pierced you – but not for long. Tomorrow: multiples. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans
“Stevens Security”, St Albans: wrath of Zeus

“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

“Security Centres”, Shoreham: electrified portcullis

"Security Centres" burglar alarm, Shoreham-by-Sea • Security Centres must have been a big firm once, as there are still plenty of their sounders around London, all pretty old. This is one of the more recent examples, and shows the lightning flash much better than yesterday's rusty and faded box. Shoreham's meant to be quite posh, and has a weird 1930s "millionaire's row" down by the seafront, home to Fatboy Slim and David Walliams amongst others; but most of the area is dominated by a really grim dockyard, which is exactly the sort of place you'd expect to find an electrified portcullis. • Spotted: Town centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Worthing West
“Security Centres”, Shoreham: electrified portcullis

“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

“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

“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

“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

“MECE”, Camden: see me

"MECE" burglar alarm, Camden • Assuming this firm isn't run by an ecstasy-chugging rapper called MC EE, the logo is intended to read "me see" – geddit? – and is thus, like yesterday's iC, a "backronym". What the letters actually stand for isn't indicated on MECE's website, though I did learn that it's a huge 18-year-old company with offices across Europe, and loads of major clients including Eurotunnel, Cambridge University and the 2012 Olympics. Which makes it odd that I've only ever come across a couple of their sounders. • Spotted: Store Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“MECE”, Camden: see me

“IC Integrated Security Ltd”, Southwark: backronym

"IC Integrated Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Southwark • To end this vision theme, a few examples of punning abbreviations, where the characters stand for entire words or syllables. While broadly acronyms, these seem to be a grey area in the English language, with no precise term for the multifarious kinds of letter-play available, though in an extensive entry, fascinating to those of a sub-editorial bent, Wikipedia suggests "initialism" as a catch-all term. I suspect this is what they would cutely sub-class a "backronym" – "one deliberately designed to be especially apt for the thing being named" – as Integrated Security happily reduces to iC, reading as "I see", or even "eye see". Had the designer dotted the "i" with an eye, this would have created enough levels of punning to end the universe. It possibly did end the company, because their website was last updated in 2009. • Spotted: Old Jamaica Road, Southwark, London, SE16, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“IC Integrated Security Ltd”, Southwark: backronym

“CamWatch”, Sheffield: prayer pomegranate

"CamWatch" burglar alarm, Sheffield • Ah, the modern world – up until now eyes have been watching from the vision-themed burglar alarms, but today it's a camera. However, there may be observation from a higher power still, for this is situated on Sheffield's Old Synagogue, a striking Victorian Gothic building rearing up from a narrow side-street near the cathedral. My photo of the frontage (below) doesn't really do it justice; it's carved with Hebrew inscriptions and topped with a stone pomegranate, whose 613 seeds represent the number of laws in the first five books of the Bible. By the 1950s it had become a warehouse for the woollen trade and later a hairdressing supplier, and is now restored as office space. There's a bit more info about its warehouse days half way down this rambling discussion thread, and an article on Sheffield's symbolically carved buildings – including the pomegranate – here. • Spotted: North Church Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“CamWatch”, Sheffield: prayer pomegranate

“ExtraWatch Security Systems”, Islington: which witch

"ExtraWatch Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • From the land of Arsenal and Old Labour (by which I mean long-serving MP Jeremy Corbyn, not ex-resident Tony Blair) comes this mouldering, faded and defunct-looking item bearing the colours of both; draw from that what parallels you will. So bleached is it that at first I thought it said Extra Witch, which sounds much more interesting and conjures up (ha ha) images of a bevy of broomstick-riding harridans swooping down upon Islington's cowering malefactors. Including, hopefully, Tony Blair. • Spotted: Marlborough Road, Islington, London, N19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“ExtraWatch Security Systems”, Islington: which witch

“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

“IFSS Infocus Security”, Hounslow: verbal vision

"IFSS Infocus Security" burglar alarm, Hounslow • Now I leave the visual representation of eyes for a few alarms that, counterintuitively, refer to vision verbally – in this case, with that popular catch-all management-speak buzz-word, "focus". In all other ways, it's a supremely boring design – it isn't even an unexplained acronym, despite the extra "S" (for "systems", presumably). I promise there are some better ones to come. • Spotted: Chiswick Mall, Hounslow, London, W4, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brentford and Isleworth
“IFSS Infocus Security”, Hounslow: verbal vision

“Focus Security Systems”, Bristol: dying star

"Focus Security Systems" burglar alarm, Bristol • The inclusion of the word "Focus" on this faded device leads me to think of this as a stylised eye, though it could equally be a dying star. Focus don't appear to have a website, and when I looked them up on Google Street View it showed a caravan... so that may be an apt metaphor. • Spotted: Town centre, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Focus Security Systems”, Bristol: dying star

“Metro Security Centre”, Tower Hamlets: wide eyed

"Metro Security Centre" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I'm probably reading too much into this design, but I see it as one immense red eye with a staring black pupil, hence its inclusion within the "vision" theme. Although that would only work on sounders of this specific almost-eye shape, and most firms use a variety of box styles over the years, so I'm probably wrong. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Metro Security Centre”, Tower Hamlets: wide eyed

“Raysil”, Southwark: snorey update

"Raysil Security Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, Southwark • Here we have a more recent and less faded version of yesterday's Raysil alarm, sporting the same dodgy design on a lovely new hexagonal box. In other words, a snorey update included for the sake of completeness. • Spotted: Farnham Place, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Raysil”, Southwark: snorey update

“Raysil”, Birchington-on-Sea: sci-fi Clearasil

"Raysil Security Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, Birchington-on-Sea • Once again an abstract eye stares out from a diamond-shaped panel, this one less elegant than yesterday's and possibly constructed from a clunky mutated R and Y. Raysil, reminiscent of Clearasil, is an odd name. The word "ray' is always quite sci-fi-sounding, and it's set in what in lesser graphic design circles of the 1980s would have passed for a sci-fi typeface. But I'm wondering if, more prosaically, it's made of two names run together: Ray and Silvia, for instance, or Ray Silver (though my researches show the erstwhile owners, who sold out to a venture capital company in 2008, are not called anything like that). As an aside, can I point out that this hefty, angular sounder is surely one of the ugliest "jewel-shaped" (aka delta) boxes ever made. • Spotted: Town centre, Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, CT7, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“Raysil”, Birchington-on-Sea: sci-fi Clearasil

“Octagon”, Marlborough: one-sided

"Octagon" burglar alarm, Marlborough • An abstract octagonal eye for a company called Octagon, in a circular sounder. I bet they'd have liked an octagonal one, but to my knowledge such things don't exist. (There's an eight-sided box as sported by the Next Gen alarm at top left here, but being irregular it looks nothing like a classic octagon.) • Spotted: Town centre, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Devizes
“Octagon”, Marlborough: one-sided

“Intelligent Security Installations”, Eton: untutored

"Intelligent Security Installations" burglar alarm, Eton • Despite the lack of pupils, I reckon those are peepers dotting the "i"s with their blank-eyed stare, although the design – unlike pupils at nearby Eton – is most kindly described as "untutored". Just as well they spell out the firm's name underneath, or the meaning would remain totally obscure. • Spotted: High Street, Eton, Berkshire, SL4, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Windsor
“Intelligent Security Installations”, Eton: untutored

“Panther Security”, East Grinstead: mutant eyebrow

"Panther Security" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • For years I didn't spot the "P" in the eye here, and was racking my brains as to what the full word could be – "ANTHEM" was my best (and wrong) guess. Then recently I came across this more recent version: lo and behold there was a letter “P” in the eye, so the firm is of course Panther. Although real panthers don't have eyebrows. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Panther Security”, East Grinstead: mutant eyebrow

“Crism”, Sheffield: concrete poetry

"Crism" burglar alarm, Sheffield • A piece of concrete poetry, no less. I haven't got a subscription to the OED (never thought a burglar alarm blog would necessitate one), so can't check if it's a real word – but I suspect it isn't. And even if it was, in Scrabble it would only get you a weedy 9 points. To continue the poetry theme, the only rhymes are "prism" (from which it is doubtless derived) and "schism", so it's probably pronounced "Krizzum", though I'm not stalkerish enough to ring them and see how they say it when they answer the phone. I guessed it was a firm run by someone called Chris M, and checking their website find this is indeed the case. Which would surely be "ChrisM" (note the upper-case M, and being one letter away from "Christ"), but perhaps that's a bit too avant-garde, even for Sheffield. • Spotted: Campo Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Crism”, Sheffield: concrete poetry

“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

“Euroscan Security”, East Grinstead: plucky move

"Euroscan Security Ltd" burglar alarm, East Grinstead• Now, in the never-ending procession of eyes, I move on to typographic treatments. This one is quite clever, though invoking the continent is a plucky move in this swathe of deeply traditional stockbroker belt, which is represented in parliament by Tory grandee Nicholas Soames, the portly grandson of Winston Churchill. And referencing the Euro isn't exactly reassuring to anyone these days. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Euroscan Security”, East Grinstead: plucky move

“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

“Securidor”, Islington: bilious egg

"Securidor Total Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • A pun on Securi-door, presumably, in a font by famous graphic designer Neville Brody (an unlikely hit with burglar alarm designers), above a bilious, badly-drawn eye that looks more like half a fried egg. It's nice to know Securidor offer total (as opposed to what – partial?) security, but the nit-picking grammar police will be on their tail for that wrongly-spaced phone code – it should be 020 8 blah blah blah. • Spotted: Wedmore Gardens, Islington, London, N19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“Securidor”, Islington: bilious egg

“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