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“Image Security”, Westminster: unattracive pupil

"Image Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Continuing the theme of abstract eyes is this more literal – and far less distinguished – take on the "red warning eye" as featured by Barry Bros yesterday. Note the red strobe, which is far more common than the unusual green one featured a few days ago on this Spy alarm. • Spotted: Great Titchfield Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Image Security”, Westminster: unattracive pupil

“Barry Bros”, Westminster: red eye

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

“Barry Bros”, Camden: back to the 90s

"Barry Bros" burglar alarm, Camden • This is a slightly older version of yesterday's Barry Bros design, minus the word "security" and with an outmoded 0171 code – very 1990s. The actual sounder is of the same style as yesterday, with the slim square bulb beneath; it's quite a common type, though I haven't featured many so far. Other than that there is nothing scintillating to note – I am simply being completist about sounders with eyes on. • Spotted: Covent Garden area, Camden, London, WC2, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Barry Bros”, Camden: back to the 90s

“Barry Bros Security”, Westminster: abstract eye

"Barry Bros Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This is quite a popular firm in central London, and I have come across several versions of their abstract eye design. This is the most recent-looking, although dating back to 2002; it bears the magic word "security", whereas the older ones don't. Barry Bros' rather antiquated website says they were founded in 1945 and are based in Praed Street WC1, opposite Paddington Station; Google Street View shows them as still there, so presumably they still exist. • Spotted: Mortimer Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Barry Bros Security”, Westminster: abstract eye

“Spy Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: giant mascara

"Spy Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • My final Spy alarm is the only example of this logo I've found – which I reckon is a more recent design than yesterday's, though the eye still sports giant mascara. The green strobe at the bottom is unusual (most seem to be blue), and was presumably chosen to match the lettering. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Spy Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: giant mascara

“Spy Alarms”, Westminster: sitting on fossils

"Spy Alarms" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Here's a more recent iteration of the Spy design than yesterday's, a strange and decorative Egyptian-looking eye which is either crying, emitting rays, or has very effective mascara. It's sited on a strip of marble teeming with the fossils of ancient sea creatures – which is a lot more interesting than the burglar alarm, really. • Spotted: Strutton Ground, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster Above: a better view of the fossil marble strip
“Spy Alarms”, Westminster: sitting on fossils

“Spy Alarms”, Lewisham: not cyclops

"Spy Alarms" burglar alarm, Lewisham • Why do all these designs only have one eye? Here's another cyclops, the Masonic-looking Spy, on a sounder so old it's got an 081 London number. Actually, I've just noticed there's another little eye in the "P", so it's not a cyclops after all; but it's still really weird. • Spotted: Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London, SE13, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford
“Spy Alarms”, Lewisham: not cyclops

“APS”, Bristol: tangled metaphor

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

“Alarm Systems Torquay”, Bath: hydrant sign

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

“SM”, Bristol: strange peeper

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

“Enright Security”, Southwark: futuristic

"Enright Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • I've already shown a small version of this as part of a decaying duo on an old laundry, so here it is in close-up: a superb vintage sounder with a sci-fi eye pierced by a lightning flash. Mike Hardesty, whose company it was, explains in his interesting comments here that the firm was started in 1976, named after his partner Eddy Enright, and sold to Lander Alarms in 1982. The logo was meant to represent an electronic eye, and was designed by a customer from his previous company who was "a bit of an arty person". I bet he never thought it would turn up on a futuristic invention called "the internet" over 30 years later. • Spotted: Pages Walk, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Enright Security”, Southwark: futuristic

“Wakefield Security & Fire”, Shoreham-by-Sea: surreal

"Wakefield Security & Fire" burglar alarm, Shoreham-by-Sea • A while ago I published an old Wakefield alarm with unfair accusations of sleepiness – so here's a more up-to-date example, which is very wakeful indeed. It's also one of only a four sounders I have found decorated with photographic images, the others being two birds and a chain. This looks like something out of a surrealist film, and is almost as unnerving as yesterday's creepy eye sticker. The firm's proprietor, in a comment below, explains that there's also a globe reflected in the eye's iris, though sadly it's not visible in this photo. • Spotted: Town centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Worthing West
“Wakefield Security & Fire”, Shoreham-by-Sea: surreal

Eye sticker, Westminster: creepy graffiti

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

“Tindall Security”, Islington: rockabilly owl

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

“Swat Selby”, York: digital snooping

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

“Swat Selby”, York: mystery bird

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

“Raven”, York: common thief

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

“Permanex”, Kensington: grumpy raptor

"Permanex" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • My final hawkish bird represents Permanex, whose name has nothing to do with avians. Therefore there's no clue as to what species this grumpy raptor is, but I'm guessing the scruffy fellow's a kestrel. Permanex specialise in guarding scaffolding, and I'm coming across their alarms with increasing frequency; it's surprising there are still so many large building projects going on in this horrible financial climate, but that's London for you. • Spotted: Cheval Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Permanex”, Kensington: grumpy raptor

“Falcon World Class Security”, Liverpool: stunted

"Falcon World Class Security" burglar alarm, Liverpool • I reckon this is a relative of the Liverpool falcon in a circular niche featured here, athough it's a slightly different design. "World Class Security" – I like the grandiloquence of such ambition. And it purports to be a registered trademark, too! Because there must be loads of security firms keen to rip off a logo that looks like a stunted griffin. • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“Falcon World Class Security”, Liverpool: stunted

“Hawk Limited”, Hackney: tattered cypher

"Hawk Limited" burglar alarm, Hackney • This tattered old bird is the only actual hawk in the "hawkish birds" section, and the best drawing too, doubtless some random bit of clip-art. I reckon it depicts a falcon, as hawk isn't a species, but a mere generic cypher representing all birds of prey except owls. Which makes the hawk the panther of the bird world. • Spotted: Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Hawk Limited”, Hackney: tattered cypher

“Southern Safeguards”, Brighton: safe-smitten

"Southern Safeguards" burglar alarm, Brighton • Another spread eagle, and even more bonkers than yesterday's: what looks like a Southern Bald Eagle smitten by a massive and badly-drawn safe, in a rather literal reading of the firm's name, Southern Safeguards. Not the newest of items, judging by both the naive design and the moss growing along the top. • Spotted: St George's Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“Southern Safeguards”, Brighton: safe-smitten

“Pro-Sec”, Tower Hamlets: mutant gecko

"Pro-Sec" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I found this eagle on a trendy little black-and-white-painted Lambretta dealership, where it matched quite well. Known in heraldry as a spread eagle, it's an incredibly common device despite its popularity with hawkish regimes from the Romans to the Nazis lending it militaristic and even fascist connotations. This one has been splatted by a stripey shield, and is clutching some mysterious objects in its talons. My guess is an olive branch and a quiver of arrows, but it could just as easily be a mutant gecko and a bunch of twigs. The name, Pro-Sec, is equally obscure. Presumably it stands for "professional security", but it sounds more like a painkiller. • Spotted: The Oval, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Pro-Sec”, Tower Hamlets: mutant gecko

“Eagle”, Merton: possibly a vulture

"Eagle" burglar alarm, Merton • Is it just me, or does this look more like a vulture than an eagle? Perhaps it's a bald eagle, so named for its white head. Pop fact: vultures have featherless heads to help them keep clean, because they're so often up to their necks in rotting flesh. Eeeuw. • Spotted: Merton High Street, Merton, London, SW19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Wimbledon
“Eagle”, Merton: possibly a vulture

“Eagle”, Birchington-on-Sea: clumsy king

"Eagle" burglar alarm, Birchington-on-Sea • The eagle has been seen as king of the birds and a messenger of the gods since ancient times (although there's a bit of a crossover with falcons), and an Apollo Eagle has already featured in the mythology section. This design has an evocative 1960s feel, apt for sleepy Birchington-on-Sea, though the clumsily-drawn eagle looks less like a lord of the air than a delivery owl fresh from Hogwarts. I've also found a version that includes the word "Canterbury", so perhaps that's where it actually comes from. • Spotted: Town centre, Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, CT7, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“Eagle”, Birchington-on-Sea: clumsy king

“Kestrel Alarms”, Brighton: through the keyhole

"Kestrel Alarms" burglar alarm, Brighton • Another Kestrel that's made a hostile takeover, this time of a firm called Keyhole Security, whose name resides in a giant keyhole shape – I need to find one of these unstickered for my "locksmithery" set. Despite sporting Lib-Dem orange, yesterday's Kestrel was in the Conservative consituency of Brighton Kemptown, while this example lives in the only Green constituency in England, Brighton Pavilion. Both Brighton constituencies, along with my blog, will be mightily shaken up if the proposed boundary changes come into effect, morphing into Lewes & Brighton East (likely Tory) and Brighton Pavilion & Hove (likely Labour). In other words, bye bye Greens. (There's a brilliant map from the Guardian here showing the changes.) • Spotted: North Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Green constituency of Brighton Pavilion
“Kestrel Alarms”, Brighton: through the keyhole

“Kestrel Alarms”, Brighton: hostile takeover

"Kestrel Alarms" burglar alarm, Brighton • Last week cages, this week birds. I had so many bird alarms I divided them into two parts. The first was "arbitrary birds", which were random and generally benign – bluebirds, doves, macaws and the like. Part two, "hawkish birds", are more fierce, being the kind that rip apart large prey with their talons (technically I should have included owls here, but as they seem to feature on alarms for their cute or wise qualities, they're in with the benign bunch). And although this cartoon Kestrel looks pretty unthreatening – like an avian member of the Blues Brothers, with his cool shades and cheeky smile (or that's how I read it) – he's made an effective hostile takeover of a box previously owned by LanGuard Alarms, a firm who still exist. At first I thought LanGuard was a stupid name, but it was founded by someone called Lang, so there is some logic there. And yes, I do know Lan also means Local Area Network. • Spotted: Old Steine, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“Kestrel Alarms”, Brighton: hostile takeover

“Ace”, Southwark: trapped

"Ace" burglar alarm, Southwark • My final cage is an accidental one – a bondage burglar alarm trapped behind some random piping. It's on an taxi garage under the vast railway viaduct that scythes through Bankside in London. Painted a jaunty red, it's a rare survivor of the old-skool businesses that used to make this area so interesting, now all being replaced by identikit glass apartment blocks aimed at a seemingly endless supply of rich international students. In my day, students lived in slums heated by leaving the oven door open till the gas meter ran out – those were the days! (Note, I am not old enough for it to have been poisonous "town gas".) But at least we got grants... • Spotted: Southwark Bridge Road, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Ace”, Southwark: trapped

“JMJ”, Sheffield: ill-fitting

"JMJ" burglar alarm, Sheffield • Thanks to a comment on yesterday's JB-Eye post, I now know that its red, horizontal-barred cage was an off-the-peg number. So what about this ill-fitting jobbie? Was it originally made for a jewel-shaped box (I wish someone would tell me what the proper name is for that shape) which later got replaced? Or is this the only shape you can get? As an aside, I cannot say how stupid I felt saying to my travelling companion, "hang on, I have to take a photo of that burglar alarm in an ill-fitting cage". I have had many such moments, but I remember this unedifying spot, next to an unpleasant bar surrounded by broken glass, as a particular low point. • Spotted: Eldon Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“JMJ”, Sheffield: ill-fitting

“JB-Eye”, Manchester: off-the-peg?

"JB-Eye Security Systems" burglar alarm, Manchester • I've already commented on the Pacman-ness of JB-Eye, but what I'm wondering about here is the cage. Was it specially made for this bell box? Or are there off-the-peg alarm cages available? This question will make more sense when tomorrow's example has been posted. • Spotted: Deansgate area, Manchester, Lancashire, M1, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Manchester Central
“JB-Eye”, Manchester: off-the-peg?

“King Security Ltd”, Sheffield: Shakespearean

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

“CTS”, Glasgow: half-cut

"CTS" burglar alarm, Glasgow • This bit of Glasgow's so posh, they only needed to cage half the burglar alarm, ha ha. It's actually above a doorway in a railway arch, hence the artistic composition, which looks like the kind of "intervention" you might find in a pop-up gallery in a multi-storey car park (I'm not making this up). As it happens, there was a pop-up gallery in the next-door railway arch (it was during an art festival), so who knows – maybe it actually was a piece of art. • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
“CTS”, Glasgow: half-cut

“Lee Security.com”, Islington: caged

"Lee Security.com" burglar alarm, Islington • Things have come to a pretty pass when not just the windows, but even the burglar alarm has to be protected by wire mesh. And this isn't from some ultra-deprived inner-city riot zone, but the posh-restaurant hot-spot of Clerkenwell. Those foodies must be desperate folk. • Spotted: St John Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Lee Security.com”, Islington: caged

“Acorn Security Systems”, Derby: nuts!

"Acorn Security Systems" burglar alarm, Derby • In the absence of a zebra, yak, xenops (a type of bird, fact fans), warthog, vulture, unicorn (because I already did one here), or tapir, the final beast in this alphabetical creature feature is a squirrel, representing Acorn Security Systems (whose acronym would be ASS, like this alarm). To which all I can say is... nuts. • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Derby South Above: a real squirrel (photo by Mariappan Jawaharlal)
“Acorn Security Systems”, Derby: nuts!

“Raptor Security”, Aylesbury: stabby talon

"Raptor Security" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • I get the feeling I'm missing something here. What on earth is this nasty thing meant to be – a tusk, a fin, a hook? Given the name, it's probably a talon, the defining factor of a raptor. Thanks to the film Jurassic Park, the word is now associated with Velociraptor dinosaurs, but it was originally a term meaning bird of prey, or "fast predator". Which is obviously burglar alarm-appropriate, but this creepy image of a stabbily-drawn talon clawing its way out of a horrible hole is not a pleasant one. It's a good match for the feel-bad town of Aylesbury where I found it, though. • Spotted: High Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury Above: real raptor talons (photo by Josh Bishop)
“Raptor Security”, Aylesbury: stabby talon

“Ram Security”, Reigate: angst-ridden

"Ram Security" burglar alarm, Reigate • A depressed-looking ram found on an old-skool corner cafe (actually called Corner Cafe, which is my idea of a proper name) in one of Reigate's less prime areas. Maybe it's protecting them from battering rams. Or maybe they sell battered rams. OK, it's a crappy joke. I wonder if the security firm's owner decided a ram would be a superb logo, so came up with the name "Reigate Alarm Master Security" (RAMS, surely) to match it? Or if the less-than-catchy name came first, then the boss thought, "Eureka! This calls for some clip art of a frowning uncastrated male sheep on my bell box"? I went back recently and the alarm's still there, but it's now so yellow and tattered that the ram looks positively angst-ridden. • Spotted: Dovers Green Road, Woodhatch, Reigate, Surrey, RH2, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Reigate Above: a real ram (photo by Martin Stoltze)
“Ram Security”, Reigate: angst-ridden

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

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

“Panther Security”, Rugby: pedantic

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

“Orca”, Richmond upon Thames: burglar to gurgler

"Orca" burglar alarm, Richmond upon Thames • Whaaaat? A killer whale on a burglar alarm? This takes the sea biscuit. I was wandering through Kew at dusk once when I spotted this chap a long way behind a leafy wall. It is actually the least appropriate security creature I have ever seen, so I had to snap it – but the poor conditions led to this terrible photo, and I've never found another Orca alarm since, even though I went back to Kew to look once. I know Kew is by the Thames, but the vision of Orcinus orca leaping from its murky depths to drag an unwary felon down to Davy Jones' locker – thus turning a burglar into a gurgler – is just too preposterous to contemplate. • Spotted: Kew Green area, Richmond upon Thames, London, TW9, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Richmond Park Above: a real killer whale (photo by Dr Robert L. Pitman)
“Orca”, Richmond upon Thames: burglar to gurgler

“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

“Jaguar Alarm Company”, Islington

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

“Baker Hart”, Haringey: venison pie

"Baker Hart" burglar alarm, Haringey • I've slipped this into the middle of the animal run because it's such an appalling photograph. I include it because it's my only example of a stag, aka a hart, here clearly illustrating one proprietor' surname. Technically they should have included a picture of a baker too, or perhaps a steaming bun, or even a venison pie, but I'll concede that that might have looked less striking. The reason for the photo's blurriness is that I hate photographing alarm boxes on houses, because the owner is – understandably – liable to rush out and give me a bollocking. So this image was snatched on the hoof, sneak-thief-like, from its neat white house in a leafy lane of Highgate as the late afternoon sun bathed its macho, rutting sounder. • Spotted: Jacksons Lane, Haringey, London, N6, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green Above: a real hart, aka a red stag (photo by Bill Ebbesen)
“Baker Hart”, Haringey: venison pie

“Gecko Properties”, Bristol: self-amputation

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

“The Scaffold Alarm Company”, Tower Hamlets: evil

"The Scaffold Alarm Company" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Unlike yesterday's docile fox, this one looks rather evil – so I'm guessing that he's the cunning enemy which the Scaffold Alarm Company hopes to keep at bay. There's no other explanation to link their extremely niche name to foxes – and I didn't even find this on scaffolding. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“The Scaffold Alarm Company”, Tower Hamlets: evil

“Renard Systems”, Winchester: docile

"Renard Systems" burglar alarm, Winchester • Renard is the French for fox - less embarrassing in English than the German Fuchs, under discussion here. It derives from Reynard, who was a cunning fox-cum-peasant-hero in a hugely poplar series of medieval satirical tales, always getting one over on the big-wigs. To this day foxes are celebrated as being smart and cunning, but they are also viewed by many as murderous thieves – so it's never clear on burglar alarms whether the fox represents the hunter, or the hunted. This one has a rather docile expression, and I'm guessing Renard is the proprietor's name. • Spotted: Town centre, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Winchester
“Renard Systems”, Winchester: docile

“Fox Systems”, York: hatless

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

“Fox Alarms”, Hull: where’s Wanker?

"Fox Alarms Leeds" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • Now we come onto a run of Fox alarms. Since this has no image, it possibly simply refers to the proprietor's surname: an ancient English soubriquet meaning, um, fox – or someone cunning. It is also an anglicization of the German patronymic Fuchs, pronounced Fooks – which is almost as embarrassing as being called Mr Wanker, as Teutonic gentlemen often are. Fuchs & Wanker – now, that would be a great security firm name! • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle Above: a real fox (photo by Rob Lee)
“Fox Alarms”, Hull: where’s Wanker?

“Colt”, Hackney: brutal subtext

"Colt Alarm Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • OK, so I've already featured a Colt, but it was shrouded in pigeon netting; this one's simply blurred. The fact that the term Colt is associated with handguns as well as young male horses is probably no coincidence, which means this also falls into the rare "shooting" category. The device's brutal subtext makes a nice contrast with the girly puce paint, which was on a groovy Shoreditch boutique. • Spotted: Goldsmiths Row, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch Above: real colts
“Colt”, Hackney: brutal subtext

“Cobra”, Newham: hooded striker

"Cobra" burglar alarm, Newham • Cobra alarms of different vintages abound in east London, and I've got so many photos of the slinky hooded strikers that I didn't know which to use – this is by no means the oldest, which I'm saving for another time. Cobra is actually a generic name for all sorts of snakes, though they all rear up and spit venom when threatened. It's a ploy that has dispatched unwanted figures throughout history, and is presumably just as effective against burglars. • Spotted: Shirley Street, Newham, London, E16, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham Above: a real cobra (photo by Kamalnv)
“Cobra”, Newham: hooded striker

“Blue Circle”, Great Missenden: fox-cat-category

"Blue Circle" burglar alarm, Great Missenden • I really can't tell if this is a fox or a cat. Its pointy ears suggest the former, its posture the latter. However, since I already have a load of fox-based alarms, I am putting this firmly in the "cat" category (ha ha), of which it is currently the sole member (I'm talking domestic cats here – there are plenty of big cat alarms). Maybe it's one of those long-eared Abyssinian cats (pictured below), which are reputed to be the same kind depicted ancient Egyptian art. Though why it is trapped inside a Blue Circle logo – which I thought was a brand of cement – remains totally obscure. Perhaps one day the person responsible for this strange and rather Chinese-looking design will enlighten me. • Spotted: Town centre, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham Above: a real Abyssinian cat (photo by Karin Langner-Bahmann)
“Blue Circle”, Great Missenden: fox-cat-category

“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

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

“BAT”, Birmingham: bloodsucker

"BAT Alarm" burglar alarm, Birmingham • I know this acronym stands for Birmingham Alarm Technicians, because I found the head office (pictured below) – but I still prefer to think of it as representing an actual noun-type bat. Not a baseball or cricket bat, useful though they would be for the deflection of unruly interlopers; but the flying, squeaking, sharp-fanged kind. Trained squadrons of hunter vampire bats could locate swag-toting Johhny Burglar by sound alone, disorient him with their hideous flapping leathery wings, give him a nasty blood-sucking bite, and pass on a dose of rabies for good measure. Result! • Spotted: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, West Midlands, B18, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood Above: a real vampire bat (photo by Barry Mansell)
“BAT”, Birmingham: bloodsucker

“Badger”, Hounslow: Albanian thief

"Badger Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hounslow • The grumpy TB-spreading badger has more relevance to burglar alarms than you may imagine. Firstly, it defends its sett ferociously, attacking even bears and wolves. Secondly, according to a very dubious entry on Wikipedia, its name possibly derives, via Romanian and Thracian, from the Albanian word for "thief" (though more conventional wisdom has it that it derives from French, and is related to the white "badge" on its forehead). And thirdly, its old English nickname Brock (from the Celtic "broc", meaning "grey"), is – ta da – also a make of burglar alarm, albeit long defunct. Of course, Badger may just be the burglar alarm proprietor's surname – in which case it has nothing to do with the animal at all, but refers either to the Domesday-listed Shropshire village of Badger, or to the medieval trade of bagger, or bag-maker. Whatever the story, it's a very old word; and it's a very old burglar alarm, too. • Spotted: Harvard Road, Hounslow, London, W4, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brentford and Isleworth Above: a real badger (photo by BadgerHero)
“Badger”, Hounslow: Albanian thief

“Armadillo”, Brighton: abject but armoured

"Armadillo Brighton" burglar alarm, Brighton • I love this alarm. A completely abject-looking armadillo, mournfully slouching above some stylish compressed type. (Being an insect-eater, it is possibly pining for the fly on the Ape alarm, below.) I've found another one in Aylesbury, which is newer than this and uses the Cooper Black font above the same illustration; and a quick web search reveals that the doughty little fellow represents Armadillo Safeguards, a 25-year-old firm based in Sutton, Surrey. Comical though it may be, unlike many burglar alarm creatures the armadillo at least has some relevance to the security trade, as it rolls up into an impenetrable armoured ball when threatened – although its guardian credentials are somewhat hampered by terrible eyesight. It falls into what I think of as the "defensive" rather than "offensive" category of anti-crime identity – somewhat abstract distinctions I shall explore further one day.• Spotted: Eastern Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown Above: A real armadillo (photo by www.birdphotos.com)
“Armadillo”, Brighton: abject but armoured

“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

"APE Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Starting today: a bonkers burglar alarm bestiary. Animals are one of the most popular themes for security firms' logos, and they're not always fierce, with at least 50 per cent ranging from from cuddly to crazy. I'll be posting, in alphabetical order, all the creatures I've found so far, excluding birds and dogs, which are so numerous they get their own categories. Thus I start with Ape (plus cheeky house fly), which combines several top security tropes in one minimalistic design: soundwaves, naive monogram, unexplained acronym, and an unfortunate connotation, as presumably it's not really meant to suggest a large hairy hominid. Given the soundwaves I'd guess it stands for something techy like Audio Protection Enterprises, and the pre-dtp logo suggests it's a long-standing firm. (Googles Ape Fire & Security). Yes, this firm is the first thing that turns up, established 1977 and still going strong with an up-to-date website. But as to what Ape – or as their blurb has it, A.P.E. – stands for, there is no mention.• Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: a real ape (Photo by Matthias Trautsch)
“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

“MR”, Islington: ultimate deterrent

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

“Fox”, York: screeching stalker

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

“Krypton”, Nottingham: noble gas

"Krypton Security" burglar alarm, Nottingham • Blimey – even Krypton can't keep the evil pigeons at bay! OK, I know it's Krypronite that can nobble Superman; Krypton, apart from being the fictional planet he came from, is in real life a rare but slightly dull "noble gas", shown bottled below. • Spotted: Forman Street, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Nottingham East Above: a vial of glowing ultrapure krypton (from Images of Elements)
“Krypton”, Nottingham: noble gas

“Direct”, Beckenham: terror eyes

"Direct Security" burglar alarm, Beckenham • Aha, there's room on top of this burglar alarm for a really avant-garde pigeon deterrent. Nothing as mundane as spikes, though: how about a pretend owl with a rotating head at £16.99 (below), an ultrasonic sound system for just £880.55, or – barmiest of all – a giant orange balloon with animated "terror eyes", only £70.90? No? Kind of shows why pigeon spikes are so popular. • Spotted: High Street, Beckenham, Kent, BR3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Beckenham Above, barmy so-called bird scarers: swivelly-headed owl, ultrasonic sound system and giant orange "terror eyes" ball
“Direct”, Beckenham: terror eyes

“3D”, Winchester: WWII spike machine

"3D Security Systems Defend Deter Detect" burglar alarm, Winchester • Defend, Deter, Detect – an ambitious claim which unwittingly sugests this firm is third, rather than first, choice for defence. It clearly needs help with pigeons though: perhaps they use the eponymous "Defender" pigeon spikes from Jones & Son, who sport a brilliant logo with a pigeon standing on it, and seem to have cornered the market. Much as I dislike the look of bird spikes, saving the nation from disappearing beneath piles of guano seems a noble enough cause, especially as the firm offers – perhaps rashly – a large bar of chocolate if they don't answer pigeon control email queries within two hours. They also have a crazy reconditioned WWII wire-bending machine on which they make the spikes – perfect cover for a Blitz alarm! • Spotted: Town centre, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Winchester
“3D”, Winchester: WWII spike machine

“GCD”, Windsor: punk haircut

"GCD Security" burglar alarm, Windsor • This sounder looks like it's got a punk haircut, and I like the way Thunderbirds-modern Eurostile font logo matches the cobalt sky. You don't often get days like this in England – apart from the burglar alarm, the scene looks more like Florida than Windsor. The photo was taken by a very patient burglar alarm-hunting companion, who's actually more interested in Neanderthals than burglars, and tweets about our ancient ancestors here.• Spotted: Town centre, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Windsor
“GCD”, Windsor: punk haircut

“Banham”, Westminster: rockabilly quiff

"Banham" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This is the first time I ever noticed a burglar alarm adorned with pigeon spikes: it struck me as quite amusing, especially as Banham's shield shape looks like a head with a rockabilly quiff. It's in Goodwins Court, a really old-fashioned gas-lit alley full of bow-fronted shops – built around 1690 and little changed today – tucked away between the Strand and Covent Garden (there's a good article about it here). Predictably, it's now part of a Harry Potter tour, though it's not the original "Diagon Alley" – that's thought to be nearby Cecil Court, famed for its quaint non-virtual shops selling weird and wonderful (and stupidly expensive) old books. • Spotted: Goodwins Court, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2003 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Banham”, Westminster: rockabilly quiff

“Globe”, Lewisham: wonkily cowering

"Globe Security" burglar alarm, Lewisham • What I like about this is the contrast between aspiration and reality (one of the driving factors behind my entire burglar alarm collection, in fact). The sounder belongs to proudly-named Globe Security, suggesting megalomaniacal international reach with its image of an entire hemisphere. And yet here it is, wonkily cowering in a back alley of Deptford, South London – not even armed with its own guano deterrent but lurking behind a filthy pigeon-spiked security light, and semi-obscuring a ventilation grille. Aah, Deptford: home to half the world's races, quite possibly, but hardly a glamorous hub of global domination. • Spotted: Resolution Way, Lewisham, London, SE8, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford
“Globe”, Lewisham: wonkily cowering

“AFA”, Birmingham: poo-brown paint

"AFA Security Systems" burglar alarm, Birmingham • A mournful corner of one of Birmingham's many surviving brutalist quarters, housing a poor old AFA alarm that's not only rusty, but effaced with poo-brown paint. Hardly worth protecting with pigeon spikes you'd think, but there they are in all their grimy glory, adding yet another layer of dolour to the scene. • Spotted: Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
“AFA”, Birmingham: poo-brown paint

“Rely-a-Bell” and “Essex”, Tower Hamlets: crowned

"Rely-a-Bell" and "Essex Security Services" burglar alarms, Tower Hamlets • Another striking composition from the endlessly-picturesque Petticoat Lane area, which is studded with vintage alarms. These have got two lines of defence: a communal half-veil of pigeon netting, and individual mini-crowns of pigeon spikes protecting their exposed heads. They're very well preserved, so it seems to have worked. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Rely-a-Bell” and “Essex”, Tower Hamlets: crowned

“Essex”, Tower Hamlets: netted

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This seasidey sunbleached sounder looks like it's been caught in a fishing net. In fact it's another example of pigeon netting, necessary because the alarm resides in the same torrential guano zone as these revolting ADTs. The lovely old Essex logo looks like it pre-dates the chain-link example of a few days ago, but as you can see from the comment below I'm wrong: one of the company's head honchos tells me it's a later design. It's more attractive, but it's also a lot more violent: three immense curved sabres, enough to see off burglars and arial arse bombers alike. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Essex”, Tower Hamlets: netted

“Colt”, Westminster: dark horse

"Colt Security Systems" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • So, how to protect one's burglar alarm from a tsunami of avian arse emissions? One solution is a veil of pigeon netting, here enveloping a Colt alarm in such full-on burqua mode you can barely see it. A dark horse indeed, ha ha. • Spotted: Strutton Ground, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Colt”, Westminster: dark horse

“Wilkin Alarms”, Sheffield: yellow peril

"Wilkin Alarms Sheffield" burglar alarm, Sheffield • The common theme of all these poo-struck alarms is the colour yellow, which perhaps in some mysterious way loosens birdy bowels. This virulent lemon example really does look like a piece of contemporary art. Which I realise isn't a great advertisement for contemporary art. • Spotted: North Church Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Wilkin Alarms”, Sheffield: yellow peril

“Initial Shorrock”, Herne Bay: seaside smear

"Initial Shorrock" burglar alarm, Herne Bay • This nasty little smear was found in the seaside town of Herne Bay, so it may have emanated from the rear of a seagull rather than a pigeon – it does look like it was dropped at speed from a great height. Not the world's most exciting piece of birdshit, but one with a smidgeon of irony, as Initial are a vast industrial cleaning company. • Spotted: Mortimer Street, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“Initial Shorrock”, Herne Bay: seaside smear

“Co-op Sunwin”, Stoke-On-Trent: brutalist tears

"United Co-op Sunwin Security" burglar alarm, Stoke-On-Trent • My family are from the Midlands, so I know that despite spawning heavy metal and Robbie Williams, the locals are decent people. But the sad fact is that a lot of the area is visually pretty dispiriting, and nowhere more so than the brutalist townscapes of the Potteries (except they don't make much pottery there any more, which is part of the problem). This about sums it up: a vast expanse of grey wall punctuated by a worn-out Co-op burglar alarm, rain-streaked with a white substance that could be pigeon shit, leached-out concrete, or the tears of a decommissioned lime kiln. • Spotted: Hanley town centre, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Stoke on Trent Central
“Co-op Sunwin”, Stoke-On-Trent: brutalist tears

“Intruder Alert” and “ADT”, Tower Hamlets: crusty

"Intruder Alert" and "ADT" burglar alarms, Tower Hamlets • This colourfully crusty corner is the sort of architectural detail that got me interested in photographing burglar alarms in the first place. There's only one kind of intruder causing problems here, and it's got feathers rather than a swag bag. Not to mention a very runny arse. • Spotted: White Church Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Intruder Alert” and “ADT”, Tower Hamlets: crusty

“Britannia”, Tower Hamlets: pigeon problems

"Britannia Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Birds are an extremely popular motif on burglar alarms, but there's one that never features: the pigeon (unless you include “Small Non-Feral Pigeon Security Systems”, aka Dove). Which is odd, because in real life pigeons adore bell boxes – the unsalubrious consequences of which we shall discover tomorrow. • Spotted: Bethnal Green Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency
“Britannia”, Tower Hamlets: pigeon problems

Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: last link

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

“Wakefield”, Worthing: Sleepfield, more like

"Wakefield" burglar alarm, Worthing • Sleepfield, more like: this was found in West Worthing, which is even more snorey than its dozy neighbour "main" Worthing, mobility scooter capital of the world. Back in 2003 digital cameras weren't up to much and I wasn't taking burglar alarms too seriously, hence the extreme blurriness, but you can just about make out a chain containing the initials WSS at the top. I'd like to get a better shot of this, and Google Street View, though usually a couple of years out of date, shows it as still there. So maybe I'm in luck – assuming I can be bothered to go back to Worthing. My brother (who tweets very amusingly about the underbelly of South Coast life as @LordScumland) lives there, so maybe I will. • Spotted: Tarring Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11, England, 2003 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Worthing West
“Wakefield”, Worthing: Sleepfield, more like

“Sovereign Security”, Frome: security cliches

"Sovereign Security" burglar alarm, Frome • Another abstract piece of chain, unless I am very much mistaken, which is also possibly intended to read as an eye. How Sovereign Security converts to the acronym SSS is unclear, but a crown would have been more appropriate, given the name's royal connotations. All in all an unconnected jumble of popular security cliches: monarchy, locksmithery, vision, and multiples of the letter S. (Acronym update: research shows that the firm started out as Sovereign Security Services, but are now known as Sovereign Fire and Security, and trade from the fascinating – to me, anyway – dockyard hinterlands beneath the M5 motorway at Avonmouth, Bristol. Of course, it's always a fair bet that an unexplained "SS" stands for "Security Systems" – on burglar alarms, at least.) • Spotted: Town centre, Frome, Somerset, BA11, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Somerton and Frome
“Sovereign Security”, Frome: security cliches

“Securebase”, Islington: abstract chain

"Securebase" burglar alarm, Islington • I reckon this is an abstract reference to chain links. It's quite clever if so, reading as both a small white S in the middle, a bigger blue S around it (making the ever-popular SS trope), with maybe the hint of a B, plus two chain links and the visual impression of something tightly twisted up. Though I'm doubtless reading far too much into what is essentially a pretty dull design. • Spotted: Wedmore Gardens, Islington, London, N19, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“Securebase”, Islington: abstract chain

“PM Security Systems”, Brighton: time and tied

"PM Security Systems" burglar alarm, Brighton • A mere chunk of chain on an identity that also references time, another popular alarm trope. It's a rough-looking bit of chain, more suited to leg irons than padlocks, though you'd be hard pressed to do anything useful with just three links. • Spotted: Sussex Square, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“PM Security Systems”, Brighton: time and tied

“Garfield”, Camden: not funny

"Garfield" burglar alarm, Camden • This company has put a chain around the entire northern hemisphere, from Greenland to equatorial Africa. Blimey! The trouble is most people associate Garfield with a not-funny American cartoon cat, and no amount of faded, cheap-looking Photoshoppery is going to change that. The firm could simply have given in and changed their branding to a kitten in chains; but instead they sold out in 2008 to ADT, so this improbable logo is no more. • Spotted: Bloomsbury Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Garfield”, Camden: not funny

“Securaplace Alarms”, Lambeth: graphics 101

"Securaplace Alarms" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This badly-drawn house appears to have a giant rapper's neck-chain dropped over it. Meanwhile the lettering breaks rule 101 of typography: don't use script fonts in all upper case. And definitely not vertically. All in all, not a triumph of graphic design. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Securaplace Alarms”, Lambeth: graphics 101

“Mayfair Selby”, York: football fixture

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

“Mayfair Selby” label, York: faded chains

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

“Lock-It Security”, East Grinstead: big-bulbed classic

"Lock-It Security Maidstone" burglar alarm, East GrinsteadEast Grinstead is just as excellent for ancient alarms as Old Coulsdon (well, both are in the Domesday book), and here provides proof that all-text alarms don't have to be boring by hosting this a lovely vintage box with a big red bulb and well-arranged type in one of my favourite fonts, Cooper Black. Which sounds a bit pathetic, but I'm sure other graphic designers will know what I mean. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Lock-It Security”, East Grinstead: big-bulbed classic

“The Lock Centre”, Chichester: nerdy day trip

"The Lock Centre Alarm" burglar alarm, Chichester • A charming old piece of sunbleached script further enhanced by artistic rust, or possibly mould – totally evocative of the weatherbeaten and folorn marina where it resided. I wish I'd been able to get directly in front of it, as I dislike side-on shots like this. I stumbled across it during a friend's unsuccessful quest to find Farthings, TV astronomer Sir Patrick Moore's thatched Selsey home (in a spirit of fandom, not stalking). What a totally nerdy day out. • Spotted: Marina area, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chichester
“The Lock Centre”, Chichester: nerdy day trip

“The London Lock Shop”, Tower Hamlets: minimal

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

“Locktec”, Tower Hamlets: ultra boring

"Locktec Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Why do so many dull typographic lock-related designs use blue-and-white Gill Sans Ultra Bold? This is the third example I've found that's set in the 1920s font – see also Bath Key Security and Strathand – and all three are ultra boring. There's a more interesting recent Locktec design depicting a roaring lion, but I'm saving that for a later category. To compound the tedium, it's a blurred photo – always a sign that I was feeling a mite exposed when taking the shot. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Locktec”, Tower Hamlets: ultra boring

“AES”, Merton: jaunty padlock

"AES" burglar alarm, Merton • This chunky but unremarkable design has wormed its way into the Locksmithery category thanks to a jaunty padlock in the bottom right hand corner. On the company website the logo is a bit more flashy, with the padlock in photographic colour, and the letters AES inscribed on its front. But although we learn that AES is a Cheam-based family company formed in 1984, there's no explanation of what the initials actually stand for: it's just another unexplained acronym. • Spotted: Kingston Road, Merton, London, SW19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Wimbledon
“AES”, Merton: jaunty padlock

“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

"Lockrite Security" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • This was found in Aylesbury, which seemed to me a shabby, sullen and faintly menacing place, despite being the county town of posh Berkshire. A brief Google search on crap towns shows that I am not alone in this assessment, but luckily crap towns are prime hunting grounds for old burglar alarms. The naive monogram on this one looks like the fabric design from a cheap 1970s A-line crimplene skirt, which ironically makes it the height of fashion, as the hideous-sounding "1970s mom" look is very modish right now. In fact everything about this alarm cries out "1970s mom", from the naff name to the cheesy font. Which is why I rather like it. • Spotted: Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury
“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

“AK Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: Kalashnikov

"AK Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • AK as in the legendary AK-47 assault rifle, a weapon not unknown in these parts? Probably not, or this would have had a picture of a gun rather than two keholes (unless they're a metaphor for the keyhole surgery required to remove bullets). The idea's not as fanciful as it sounds, because there are burglar alarms alluding to shooting, which I shall feature one day – though they don't go as far as depicting actual firerarms. I shot (photographically) this somewhat blurred image in a Bethnal Green back alley  absolutely stuffed with vintage sounders, though I was actually on my way to the grittily-located Hollybush Gardens gallery. • Spotted: Pundersons Gardens, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“AK Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: Kalashnikov

“Briar”, Cambridge: bonkers but brilliant

"Briar" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Here's a newer version of yesterday's brilliantly bonkers Briar Alarm logo, with the two padlocks joined to make a more convincing B, less keyholey keyholes, and some superfluous streamlines around the edge. The words "Cambridge" and "alarm" have also disappeared, presumably – as discussed in other recent posts – due to the concepts of local offices and humble burglar alarms being considered outmoded by today's high-tech security practitioners (though customers may feel differently). It's still a classic, and as I commented in my essay on silver alarms, this super-shiny box makes even such a patently absurd monogram look stylish. • Spotted: Regent Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar”, Cambridge: bonkers but brilliant

“Briar Alarm”, Cambridge: bondage Abba

"Briar Alarm Cambridge" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Bonkers but brilliant: two sideways padlocks making an Abba-esque reflected B. The B stands for Briar, which suggests roses rather than bondage accessories, and could therefore more appropriately have been represented by a thorny B, evoking barbed wire as well as spiky stems. But that wouldn't have been as much fun as this surreal slice of locksmithery. • Spotted: Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar Alarm”, Cambridge: bondage Abba