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Cartel, Tower Hamlets: wonky

Cartel Security Surveillance Communications "Cartel Security Surveillance Communications" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I don't know what this is all about. The logo's a triangle with a chunk cut out that doesn't look like anything except a wonky "V", and the name of the company refers to a type of business arrangement that's associated, in popular parlance, with illegal price fixing. Not that I'm suggested in any way that that's what this firm gets up to; it probably just sounded good when they thought of it. • Spotted: Poyser Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
Cartel, Tower Hamlets: wonky

Communicate, Tower Hamlets: musical

Communicate RedchurchSt nr E2 7DJ 40296_800 "Communicate Security & Communications" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • The term telecoms is beginning to sound a bit old-fashioned: these days we communicate by many online means (though not via burglar alarm, to my knowledge). This musical mauve C looks more like a logo for a caring, sharing PR company, though. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
Communicate, Tower Hamlets: musical

Ghost under “ADT”, Tower Hamlets: last gasp

Ghost under "ADT" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Now onto ghost alarms that have been cruelly obliterated by newer models. I reckon this round-cornered square can only be the last gasp of a tupperware box-shaped Securicor Granley (or one of its spin-offs). At least it got replaced with a sounder that matches. • Spotted: Coventry Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
Ghost under “ADT”, Tower Hamlets: last gasp

“Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: not scimitars

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Courtesy of Essex Security Services, already heavily featured on this blog, come what I at first thought were three scimitars – curved sabres good for slashing from horses, and much favoured in medieval Arabia. But as I am reliably informed by the firm's head honcho (see comments, below), they are in fact Seaxes: Germanic daggers from which the Essex-bound Saxons took their name, and which now feature in the Essex coat of arms. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: not scimitars

“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

"HSS Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • HSS used to be based in Harlow, so I reckon HSS stands for Harlow Security Systems. Aptly for a sounder located in Tower Hamlets, it pictures a Beefeater - aka a Yeoman of the Guard, which is apparently an incorrect term for Yeoman Warder, ie a geezer who ceremonially "guards" the Tower of London. That looks like a vicious weapon he's carrying, but in fact it's just a decorative staff. Tomorrow however, the theme is indeed weapons. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

“Shield Security System”, Hackney: crumpled

"Shield Security System" burglar alarm, Hackney • And still the crumpled old Shields keep on coming. This is a nice old vintage design, quite a few of which are still around. Maybe someone can tell me if this is the same company as the last two yellow Shields• Spotted: Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Shield Security System”, Hackney: crumpled

“Ambassador”, Tower Hamlets: final shield

"Ambassador Security Group" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A later Ambassador than yesterday's, this bears their final simplified shield logo, as also seen fading away on the Secom-style box discussed in the comments here. Ambassadors always end up as knights, and the heraldic shield of course also refers to knights. Thus, uncoincidentally, the theme for tomorrow is "knighthood". • Spotted: Coventry Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Ambassador”, Tower Hamlets: final shield

“InTech Fire & Security”, Tower Hamlets: good omen

"InTech Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Judging by yesterday's alarm, the tick trope is starting to look like an omen for longevity. Here's another family firm still apparently going strong after 25 years, though according to the Essex outfit's inextensive website it looks like they've dropped the lively tick. Without its promise of "rightness",  all that's left is a connotation of techiness, though I guess InTech may also be a play on In Touch, which I always thought was a Radio 4 programme for the visually impaired (it's quite good actually). • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“InTech Fire & Security”, Tower Hamlets: good omen

“City Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: ticked off

"City Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • While arrows and chevrons are popular on burglar alarms, their natural graphic companion the Sure Deodorant-style tick is rare, so here begins a necessarily short run of them. Hornchurch-based City Alarms rocked the tick-plus-London-skyline look for years, though they've now got a totally different logo which you can see on their website here. They've got yet another logo on their brilliant legacy Web 2.0 website here – bristling with sound effects and animations, it must date from around 2000, as it says the 1988-founded firm is 12 years old. • Spotted: The Oval, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“City Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: ticked off

“Tetco”, Tower Hamlets: corporate thrust

"Tetco" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This thrusting, self-piercing arrow is either strangely phallic or reminiscent of a devil's tail. It has a late 1980s corporate feel: something Margaret Thatcher would have approved of on a BA plane's tailfin, or the door of a privatised BT phone box. Calling your company "something-co" is equally corporate, but a risky strategy: it can sound impressive if the image is good enough, but it can also look pathetic with a shonky design. This just about falls in the former camp, so I assumed Tetco was quite a big operation. However Google only throws up a Tetco Security Systems in Deal, Kent that exists solely on business directory sites (aka business graveyards), and another registered in Cheshire that appears equally inactive. So despite its professional image and name, this firm is presumably defunct. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Tetco”, Tower Hamlets: corporate thrust

“Yale”, Tower Hamlets: humdrum wedge

"Yale" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Now come a few odd-shaped sounders for which I can't find the correct geometrical terms (because there probably aren't any). The hulking contraption above is the dummy box companion to Yale's round sounder here – though as I commented there, if that is a gleaming Gouda, this is a mere humdrum wedge of Cheddar. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Yale”, Tower Hamlets: humdrum wedge

“Ambush”, Tower Hamlets: chunky UK plug

"Ambush Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This looks even more like a chunky British electrical plug than yesterday's Secom, and is the only example of this sounder shape I've ever come across. It's the only Ambush device I've found too: a quick Google shows they're an Uxbridge outfit that formed in 1998, and acquired Jaguar Alarm Company in 2005 (possibly this firm). The ancient tactic of ambush is a classic militia-style burglar alarm name, of the kind that started me writing this bonkers blog in the first place; in olden times, such a manoeuvre might have involved battalions of soldiers concealed behind a hilltop, but I imagine this firm's response is more modest. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Ambush”, Tower Hamlets: chunky UK plug

“SAS”, Tower Hamlets: commandos on a spacecraft

"SAS Protection" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Finally, something that definitely is obsolete – NASA's recently-decommissioned Space Shuttle, the last of which, Atlantis (below), had its final flight in July 2011; the programme had been running since 1981, which is probably closer to the date of this sounder. What a Space Shuttle has got to do with the SAS, aka the British Army's crack Special Air Service corps, is anyone's guess. But if I was burgling a building and an immense orbital space vehicle bearing a payload of gun-toting, balaclava-clad commandos turned up, I'd definitely be a bit worried. • Spotted: Cambridge Heath Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow [caption id="attachment_10532" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="The last Space Shuttle, Atlantis, prepares to land – presumably not on a burglar"][/caption]
“SAS”, Tower Hamlets: commandos on a spacecraft

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“Apollo Eagle”, Tower Hamlets: moon lander

"Apollo Eagle" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This vintage sun-like yellow sounder is a great match for uber-deity Apollo, the powerful Greco-Roman god of the sun. Worshipped far and wide in the ancient world, Apollo was closely associated with light, music, medicine, poetry and much else, but wasn't linked with eagles until mere mortals headed for the moon (property of his sister, Artemis) a couple of millennia later. In 1961, NASA manager Abe Silverstein deliberately referenced the Greek god when he named the US space program Apollo; and on 20 July 1969 Apollo 11's lunar module Eagle finally deposited humans on the moon's surface, hence the immortal phrase "the Eagle has landed". Which may be the source of this space race-era alarm's name, though more prosaically, it's probably the result of a merger between two companies called Apollo and Eagle. • Spotted: The Oval, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow Above: When Apollo met Eagle on the moon. Left: a Roman statue of Apollo (c.150 AD) from the Ny Carlsberg Glypotek, Copenhagen. Middle: Buzz Aldrin with moon lander Eagle on the lunar surface. Right: the Apollo 11 insignia, complete with moon-landing eagle.
“Apollo Eagle”, Tower Hamlets: moon lander

“Atlantis”, Tower Hamlets: sunk without trace

"Atlantis Secure Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Even the ancient Greeks thought Atlantis was fictional, and they should have known because they probably invented it. Before Plato described the 9000-year-old lost city in his dialogue Timaeus of around 360 BC, there had been no recorded mention of the place, whereas myths usually have long, traceable histories. It seems likely he was using imaginary geography to make a political point – as Jonathan Swift did in Gulliver's Travels, or Sir Thomas More in Utopia – but the idea is so seductive that it remains with us today. It's quite a weird title for a burglar alarm (albeit one illustrated with a white fish and a shadowy shark, possibly a metaphor for burglar-catching); Atlantis has the opposite connotation to yesterday's triumphantly arising Phoenix, suggesting something that will sink catastrophically. Despite this it's a widely-used name, ironically popular with vessels: not only seagoing ones but the last operational space shuttle Atlantis, whose final flight is in July 2011 (tickets to view the launch are available from NASA). As for possible sites for the city of Atlantis, there's a new crackpot theory every year. More interesting are the real, eponymous places: the Atlantis Massif under the Atlantic, a dome of dense green rock extruded from the earth's deep mantle; 1198 Atlantis, a Mars-crossing asteroid orbiting quite near Earth; and the Atlantis Chaos, an area of turbulent Martian terrain featuring possible water gullies (all pictured below). Plato's imaginary island went a long, long way. • Spotted: Vyner Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow Above: Digital images of real Atlantises. Top: the sub-Atlantic Atlantis Massif, from Washington University's Lost City deep-sea research site. Middle: orbit of the asteroid 1198 Atlantis from Nasa Jet Propulsion Lab's Small-Body Database Browser, which can animate orbits through time. Bottom: ripples and gullies in the Atlantis Chaos area of Mars, from University of Arizona's amazing HiRise Mars imaging site.
“Atlantis”, Tower Hamlets: sunk without trace

“Honeywell Shield”, Hackney: faded colour field

"Honeywell Shield Security System" burglar alarm, Hackney • Yesterday I featured a knight, and today a shield: another very popular alarm device. There's nothing spectacularly decaying about this scene, but it's a study in faded colour; the rusty red alarm toning with the soft pink wall, set off against the flat blue-grey expanse of inscrutable window by bars of dirty white. Not for the first time when photographing burglar alarm tableaux, it makes me think of 1960s colour field paintings, or a print by Ed Ruscha. But I can't afford those, so this will do for me. • Spotted: Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Honeywell Shield”, Hackney: faded colour field

“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: snotty guano

"HSS Alarms Harlow" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Another weeping alarm, dribbling a snotty white trail rather than yesterday's tears of rust. I found it in a laneway off the Hackney road, but the colours and window grilles are reminiscent of a Hong Kong backstreet circa 1988. The pale streak looks like guano, but may possibly be the only clean patch on the grubby black-painted sweatshop wall. • Spotted: Pundersons Gardens, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: snotty guano

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

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

“OTS”, Tower Hamlets: an owl on a key – how sweet!

"OTS" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A chubby owl sitting on a giant key in front of a crescent moon – how sweet is this? The initials OTS  are branded on the owl's breast and below its feet, but there's no clue as to what this unexplained acronym stands for. The firm itself is equally mysterious; all I can discover is that it was once based in the Northumberland Park area of Tottenham, London, and by the noughties had merged with a Chingford company called Davenheath. The 081 number dates it as pre-1995, and there's also a later 0181 numbered version which must be pre-2000. On this latter iteration, the key, moon and chest tattoo are gone, and the owl is simply perched on a big OTS logo. It was probably meant to look more sophisticated – but, charmingly, it still looks just as much like a children's book illustration. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“OTS”, Tower Hamlets: an owl on a key – how sweet!

“Lander”, Tower Hamlets: a Scottish family tale

"Lander Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I have always been intrigued by these Lander boxes. There are plenty still around, but the well-preserved example here is an exception: most are extremely rusty and sun-bleached, and appear to have been abandoned decades ago. I was first attracted by their abstract geometrical logo, which can also be read as two Ls with a red sensor in the middle, echoing the bulb beneath. If repeated, it would make a snazzy piece of 1970s fabric design, and like the Capstan identity of a few days ago, harks back to the heyday of rigorous Swiss graphics. The two Ls surely represent the two Landers behind this Scottish family enterprise: old father Lander, who founded the firm, and whose first name I can't discover; and his entrepreneurial son Ronald (aka Ron), who by his 20s had got a BSc in Electrical Engineering and established the only mortgage brokerage in Scotland. He joined his father's alarm business in the 1970s, rapidly building it up and then in 1979 progressively selling it out to RMC Group (a building supplies conglomerate later notorious for the 1989 Marchioness disaster, when its aggregate dredger Bowbelle rammed a Thames pleasure boat with the loss of 60 lives). Ron stayed on as MD of Lander Alarms until 1985, growing it by acquisition into one of the UK's three largest electronic security firms, upon which RMC offloaded it for nearly £50m to Automated Security Holdings, later bought by Lord Ashcroft's ADT, itself ending up part of global behemoth Tyco. Ronald Lander, meanwhile, exited a millionaire – which meant more in the 1980s than it does now – and got into educational software and civic duties, becoming one of Scotland's best-known business figures and earning a Professorship and an OBE. His internet mentions seem to dry up after 1997, but neither have I come across an obituary – so who knows where the man behind Lander is today, though his alarms look like they gave up the ghost when he sold out in 1979. Fortunately they age exceptionally well, fading gracefully into sepia-toned tableaux of beautiful decay – a theme I'll be returning to later. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Lander”, Tower Hamlets: a Scottish family tale

“DIS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: super-naive

"DIS Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Once again a Whitechapel alarm boasting church bells, even though the inscrutable acronym DIS makes no reference to campanology. These bells are even worse than the amateur Rotring drawing on yesterday's Sound Alarm – in fact it looks as if the DIS designer has paid a red biro double homage to that hapless effort, in the manner of Andy Warhol making a multiple Marilyn. This blog is essentially an ever-growing taxonomy of burglar alarms, which means I'm assigning each design to various categories. As these are artistic rather than scientific groupings, my judgments are often subjective, and never more so than for the category "Naive". Burglar alarm design is a vernacular art, so the vast majority of logos are naive in some way (which is one of the reasons I like them); but a category which includes nearly everything isn't worth having, so I've had to work out gradations. My master database, a monster Lightroom catalogue holding a decade's worth of photos, loosely sorts them under the headings "quite naive", "very naive", and "super-naive" (I said it wasn't scientific). It's always a hard call deciding what to put where, but when you see a super-naive design you know it – and we have one here. In it goes! • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“DIS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: super-naive

“Sound Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: badly-drawn bell

"Sound Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • One of my favourite alarms, this is so naive it's like fine art. I love the simple yet double-edged name, the basic typography, and just look at that wonky Rotring bell drawing – Tracey Emin couldn't have done better. It's been mightily laboured over, with valiant attempts at shading, texture and even soundwaves – but you wouldn't confuse it with the work of a trained designer. And all that effort wasted, because the church-style swinging bell depicted is precisely the type never found in burglar alarms. Although it's a really old alarm box, there are still plenty knocking around in the Whitechapel area, which perhaps not uncoincidentally also houses the oldest bell foundry in Britain. Tracey Emin also lives nearby – go figure. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Sound Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: badly-drawn bell

“Bels”, Tower Hamlets: form follows function

"Bels" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A perfect example of form following function: a round case for a round bell for a company called Bels (I'll forgive that missing 'L'). Thanks to learned comments by Richard Wilson and John Durrant, I now know that these cases are called "sounders", that this particular shape is called a Eurobell, and that bells in alarms are considered very last century – which makes the bell-based relics still on display all the more charming. To deconstruct the graphics on this, one thing is puzzling me: what on earth are the funny round symbols at either end meant to be? They look a bit like screw heads, so I reckon the whole design is supposed to conjure up visions of a shiny 3D enamel nameplate. Which it doesn't. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Bels”, Tower Hamlets: form follows function

“DR Security”, Tower Hamlets: What’s up, Doc?

DR Security burglar alarm, London E2, 2007"DR Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2007 • "Help, Doctor Security, can you make a house call? There's a huge red throbbing pimple on my roof! When you get here, just climb in through the giant No Entry sign, and mind that nasty gap in the floorboards..." • Spotted: Three Colts Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow DR Security burglar alarm, London E2, 2007
“DR Security”, Tower Hamlets: What’s up, Doc?

“Teeth” sticker, Hackney: safety with a snarl

"North London Security" burglar alarm with teeth sticker, Hackney, 2006"North London Security Systems" burglar alarm with teeth sticker, Hackney, 2006 • A burglar alarm that bites, ha ha. There's something martial about this: a Vorticist V-for-victory searchlight flaring above a snarling green hulk-mouth baring tombstone teeth. This alarm should be on the front of the Imperial War Museum, not some grotty shopfront in Shoreditch. Cropped from the bottom of the picture is the immortal graffito "Fuck the Turner" (prize), which about sums up the area's Hoxton art-hipster concerns. Those young folk are lucky they never lived through the Blitz (I'm talking WWII here, not the 1980s night club) – they'd have had far more serious things to worry about. • Spotted: Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch "North London Security" burglar alarm with teeth sticker, Hackney, 2006
“Teeth” sticker, Hackney: safety with a snarl