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CSS, Hackney, 2006

“CSS” burglar alarm, Hackney • I often see these generic alarms featuring a portion of Britain. I guess it’s a standard design people apply their firm’s name to (in this […]
CSS, Hackney, 2006

AES, Islington, 2012

“AES” burglar alarm, Islington • There’s a rectangular, less dirty one here. • Spotted: York Way, Islington, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and […]
AES, Islington, 2012

Alert Security, Islington: mini-monogram

Alert Security "Alert Security" burglar alarm, Islington • There's a mini-monogram on this faded oldster if you look closely – an A in a shield up at the top. To my mind (ie the sad mind of a graphic designer), it makes a rather attractive composition with its background of semi-painted wall (see below). • Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Alert Security
Alert Security, Islington: mini-monogram

Southern Electric, Islington: 1980s

Southern Electric Security Systems "Southern Electric Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • This is a very 1980s-looking illustration, though I daresay the alarm is more recent. Whether it's the same Southern Electric as this electricity firm – now with very different look – I have no idea. • Spotted: York Way, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
Southern Electric, Islington: 1980s

Securitech, Islington: football shirt

Securitech "Securitech" burglar alarm, Islington • Today we move from science to technology, one of burglar alarm land's favourite tropes. I really like this striking old design, which looks like a stripy football shirt. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
Securitech, Islington: football shirt

“Wilton Alarms”, Islington: registration marks

Wilton Alarms "Wilton Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • This definitely looks like a gun sight's crosshairs, though if I'm honest it also resembles the registration marks printers use to help line up their plates correctly. On the website of Wilton Alarms, the Dorking-based firm explain they're now known as Wilton Security Systems. Luckily they still retain this logo, so I narrowly escaped confusing them with Wilton Alarm Systems of Wilton in Salisbury,  whose unmistakable rapier-wielding wasp is one of my favourite sounder designs, as featured here. • Spotted: Wharfdale Road, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Wilton Alarms”, Islington: registration marks

“CPA Alarms”, Islington: obscure

"CPA Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • The strange logo at the top, which to me looks like a giant molar, is in fact some unidentifiable panels (presumably not a Richard Serra sculpture) on top of a globe. The legend around it reads "Pyronix Association of Security Specialists", which is totally opaque to me, as is the acronym CPA. Googling reveals that Pyronix is a major trade supplier and the three weird planks are their logo, but all in all it's a very obscure sounder design for the lay viewer. • Spotted: Caledonian Road, Islington, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“CPA Alarms”, Islington: obscure

“Alarm Shop II”, Islington: where’s Shop 1?

"Alarm Shop II" burglar alarm, Islington • Now a very brief run of alarms named after shops. Not famous shops, like M&S or Tesco – just generic shops, as in Shop. This disco-tastic logo actually says Shop II, which is quite odd – I'm presuming it's pronounced Shop Two, as in Elizabeth Two, rather than Shop Eleven, as in a football team. But I've never found a Shop I. • Spotted: Packington Street, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Alarm Shop II”, Islington: where’s Shop 1?

“Independent Security Contracts”, Islington: encrusted

"Independent Security Contracts Ltd" burglar alarm, Islington • Another embattled shield, encrusted with names: "Security ISC 24 Independent Contractors Ltd" if read in an attempt at logical order. While googling around to find out what this kind of shield represents in heraldry, I learnt the much more interesting fact that Sir Paul McCartney has a totally bonkers coat of arms, which incorporates an abstract guitar – it took him years to get it designed. The tenuous link with ISC is that it's in roughly the same colours. Um, well gold and black v yellow and dark green – I said it was tenuous. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Independent Security Contracts”, Islington: encrusted

“Security Centres”, Islington: complicated history

"Security Centres" burglar alarm, Islington • I've already featured Security Centres twice in the lightning category, but I'm a sucker for decaying sounders, so here they are again with a very rusty portcullis. There's a slightly complicated history discussed in the comments here, regarding a 1980s UK company called Security Centres, who presumably installed this alarm, and also the vintage one here. They were then acquired by Modern Alarms, after which some ex-employees founded a Welsh firm called Security Centres (GB) using the same portcullis logo, as featured here, and are still going strong. Shows how popular the portcullis is! • Spotted: Wharfdale Road, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Security Centres”, Islington: complicated history

“Knight Security Systems”, Islington: noble pun

"Knight Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • With their connotations of nobility, bravery and chivalry, and the happy pun on "night", knights are one of the most popular burglar alarm themes. This old example is so huge (see side view, below) it could even have a few mounted warriors lurking within it. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Knight Security Systems”, Islington: noble pun

“Baron Security”, Islington: ball shortage

"Baron Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Baron Security of Epping sounds like the kind of dodgy title an unsuspecting American would buy over the internet. Barons are entitled to be called "lord", but it's actually a rather lowly rank, being bottom of the five rungs of the peerage. And in this case even the coronet is dubious: it should have six silver balls around it, like the one pictured below – I reckon the Baron flogged them on Ebay. Of course, I jest. Baron is a surname as well as a title, so that's more likely the origin of 1985-founded Baron Security's name. I still prefer to think of this firm as being owned by a rampaging, serf-baiting, coronet-pawning Essex aristocrat, though.• Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury [caption id="attachment_12237" align="alignnone" width="472"] A baron's coronet, showing four of its regulation six balls[/caption]
“Baron Security”, Islington: ball shortage

“Abel”, Islington: glowing logo

"Abel" burglar alarm, Islington • A lot of pioneering British alarm companies were swallowed up by multinationals in the 1980s, but veteran firm Abel – like Banham, featured yesterday – endure. They were formed in 1965, and according to their website are now the UK's largest privately owned providers of electronic security systems. They certainly update their boxes regularly – compare and contrast the old red effort featured here with their current look, above. Utterly proprietary, it's a slim silver metal square with a die-cut logo that's illuminated from within, as shown glowing at dusk below. Slick! • Spotted: Upper Street, Islington, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Abel”, Islington: glowing logo

“Next Gen”, Hackney: shiny Trekkie plug

"Next Gen Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • Half-way between the Secom and Ambush plugs, though with eight sides rather than six, this is another rarely-seen bell box shape that resembles a giant electrical plug. It would be quite attractive if the logo wasn't so basic, which is a waste of tasteful chrome. In its futuristicness, it can't help but conjure up Captain Picard and his chums from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In contrast, the Elstree-based firm's website has a brilliant stock photo of an old school "pantomime burglar" wearing black hat, gloves and goggles. Make it so! • Spotted: Hoxton Square, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Next Gen”, Hackney: shiny Trekkie plug

“Robot”, Islington: insane apprehension device

"Robot" burglar alarm, Islington • Technically, robots are still futuristic, but there's something so insane about the idea of a 1980s-looking mechanised burglar apprehension device that this Robot sounder definitely belongs in the "retro-futurism" category. I've spotted a couple in the North London area, but googling Robot Security draws a blank, so presumably the firm is no longer of this world. For real robotic security, you could try the useless-looking droid below, which theoretically chucks a net over potential intruders but looks less effective than a hoover. • Spotted: Hemingford Road, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury [caption id="attachment_10526" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="The hoover-like T-34, a not-very-threatening Japanese security droid"][/caption]
“Robot”, Islington: insane apprehension device

“M-Tronic”, Islington: antiques arcade oldster

"M-Tronic Alarms Ltd." burglar alarm, Islington • Recently there was much discussion under an old Lander box about the firm M-Tronic, and its successor Nu-Tron. To summarise, it was stated that M-Tronic was an east London company whose bell boxes were secured with two screws (just about visible through the rust here) similar to a Lander box, and whose owners sold out to Lander before going on to form Nu-Tron – a firm which will be discussed tomorrow. I'd never seen an M-Tronic sounder, and the commenters reckoned very few ever existed, but I've now discovered this incredibly oxidised, but still legible, M-Tronic example in the apt surrounds of an Islington antiques arcade. I've put it in the "retrofuturism" section because calling anything something-tronic sounds futuristically dated. And it also makes me think of futuristic-in-80s electro record label M-Tronic, and the similarly vintage electro-hip-hop duo Mantronix, whose logo serendipitously features yesterday's computer typeface. Though even both of those old-skool "tronics" are probably more recent than this ancient alarm with its pre-01 phone number. Interesting phone fact: the prefix here, 555, is regularly used for fictitious phone numbers in American films and TV shows (see for instance The Simpsons), as it covers a special set of numbers not used by any US exchange. • Spotted: Camden Passage, Camden, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“M-Tronic”, Islington: antiques arcade oldster

“ADT”, Hackney: Cyberman piping

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

“Crime Stop”, Hackney: crime start, more like

"Crime Stop" burglar alarm, Hackney • I've already featured a close-up of this red, drippy alarm under the theme The Law, but its environment is worth showing too. Did ever a door ever look less needy of a burglar alarm, and a "Crime Stop" one at that? Either the crime has already happened, or there's nothing worth nicking, and as for the surroundings – "Crime Start" might be a more accurate name. • Spotted: Downham Road, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Crime Stop”, Hackney: crime start, more like

“ARG Security”, Islington: bouquet of barbed wire

"ARG Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Echoing yesterday's imagery, another pointy roof decorated with barbed wire and a rusty vintage alarm, this time enlivened by a spray of weedy foliage and – for some reason – a string of giant fairy lights entangled with the wire. The building is a defunct garage, one of an ever-diminishing clutch of old-style industrial units in the rapidly gentrifying hinterland of Kings Cross. • Spotted: York Way, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“ARG Security”, Islington: bouquet of barbed wire

“Chubb”, Hackney: the oldest brand of all

"Chubb" burglar alarm, Hackney • It's ironic that I selected this iconic blue Chubb box for its Modernist design, as it turns out to be the oldest brand name of all; and also, sadly, a blueprint for the decline of British industry at the hands of high finance over the last 40 years. The company was launched in 1804 by Charles Chubb, who started out selling ships' ironmongery, but moved into security when his brother Jeremiah invented a new type of lock. After gaining a Royal Warrant in the 1830s, the Chubb family enjoyed five generations of global growth, providing security for everything from the Crown Jewels to the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Winston Churchill's wartime papers. By the end of the 1960s the Wolverhampton-based company had swallowed up Rely-A-Bell and many other smaller rivals and was a respected bastion of British industry. According to ex-employee David Ibbs, the rot set in during the 1970s when Chubb damaged its finances by acquiring – under government urging – the failing Gross cash register business. And so, as the era of deregulation dawned, the weakened Chubb shifted from being a proud family-run manufacturer providing careers for life, to being the financial plaything of City moguls driven only by the bottom line. Starting with a misguided acquisition by Racal in 1984, Chubb demerged and remerged with other multinationals several times, "downsizing" (ie making skilled and loyal staff redundant) each time, and gradually splitting apart so that locks, safes and alarms ended up with different owners. Today, the alarms division is just a small part of American conglomerate United Technologies Corporation (UTC), while the other pieces are owned by Swedish multinationals. Chubb's last family boss, George Charles Hayter Chubb, aka the third Baron Hayter, was a highly-regarded Lords cross-bencher who tried to block Maggie Thatcher's destruction of the GLC, and once chaired the Design Council. Presumably his interest in design led to the 1970s introduction of this minimalist blue branding with its striking triangular box, known for obvious reasons as the "Delta". This powerful design has survived Chubb's many changes of ownership and lives on still, its current incarnation being a chunky-looking round-cornered Delta in posh navy plastic. In earlier times there was also a square blue metal box bearing the same logo, and I recently spotted a distressing new pentagonal variation. The example pictured here is a classic old metal Delta with faded paint and sharp corners, possibly dating from the 1980s. The (intentionally?) "chubby" initial C is, apparently, based on the front view of a mortice lock – a last poignant link to the glory days of the original Chubb brothers and their once-great British company. • Spotted: Kings Wharf, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Chubb”, Hackney: the oldest brand of all

“Videotech”, Islington: detection on drugs

Videotech burglar alarm Islington 2010"Videotech Security" burglar alarm, Islington • I know Sherlock Holmes was into drugs, but this is ridiculous. He's grown to immense proportions and is squinting at a rubbery gingerbread-style house through a magnifying glass, as if inspecting the chimney for crumbs. It's more like a suburb of the nightmare world inhabited by the sobbing, half-human house on the scary TR Security alarm than the glossy fusion of Video and Tech promised by the firm's title. But at least it's quite amusing, unlike most other detection-themed alarms – as has been demonstrated over last few days. • Spotted: York Way, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Videotech burglar alarm Islington 2010
“Videotech”, Islington: detection on drugs

“Crime Stop”, Hackney: the fine art of crime

Crime Stop burglar alarm, Hackney, 2006"Crime Stop" burglar alarm, Hackney • After a parade of shadowy intruders and pantomime burglars, the time has come to firmly lay down the law. Despite its simple message and drippy background, this manages to sum up the prime directive of all burglar alarms, albeit backwards: stop crime. I actually find its washed-out minimalism rather beautiful – it makes me think of stain paintings by Morris Louis or text works by Ed Ruscha. There's obviously something very, very wrong with me. • Spotted: Downham Road, Hackney, London, N1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch Crime Stop burglar alarm, Hackney, 2006
“Crime Stop”, Hackney: the fine art of crime