Skip to content

SW7

“Tara”, Kensington: venerable green shield

"Tara" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Yet another take on the triangle, this venerable shield classifies as "uncommon" because it's used only by divisions of Banham, who must have taken over Tara at some point (they used to have really boring rectangular boxes with a very basic logo). You see many Taras in Kensington & Chelsea, so I liked to imagine the firm was named after some posh filly (eg Palmer Tomkinson) rather then the Scouse for goodbye – this one was even found in Cheval (ie horse) Place. But as pointed out in this comment, the Hill of Tara is an important Irish Neolithic site that was the mythical seat of Ireland's high kings – hence perhaps the green logo, which I'm rather partial to. • Spotted: Cheval Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Tara”, Kensington: venerable green shield

“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

“Spitfire Security Systems”, Kensington: firebrand

"Spitfire Security Systems" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • The Spitfire fighter plane was brilliantly designed by ex-locomotive apprentice Reginald Joseph Mitchell, and while this alarm isn't quite in that class, its logo is a lot more sophisticated than yesterday's basic iteration. It employs the highly unusual burglar alarm colours of purple and gold, both associated with royalty, though what the comet-like thing underneath has to do with Spitfires I don't know – the Comet was a completely different plane. The firm behind this alarm still exists, but though it retains the same logo – now in aqua – it has dispensed with security services and, renamed plain Spitfire, concentrates on telecoms. I was interested in the connotations of the word Spitfire, especially as one etymology website suggests it replaced the earlier term "shitfire", from the Florentine cacafuoco. However according to the OED, its first-known use was by Samuel Rowlands in 1600, since when it hasn't gathered any meanings other than fire-spitting objects such as cannons and volcanos, a type of nautical storm-sail, and – most commonly – creatures of irascible bent, eg women and cats. And now a defunct plane and burglar alarm. • Spotted: Clareville Street, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Spitfire Security Systems”, Kensington: firebrand

“Capstan”, Kensington: not the evil cigarettes

"Capstan" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • Because of their clinical 1970s-style design and a name recalling the fiendish hand-blackening Capstan Navy Cut Full Strength cigarettes still common in that era, I've always assumed these were quite old. The shield-shaped box also looks like the product of an earlier, more rigorous era; it's a design classic, but not widely used nowadays except by Banham. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that this firm is very much still in existence, and indeed has its HQ not far from my home. Unlike all the other outfits sporting "Modernist" designs, Capstan seems not (yet) to have been involved in a web of global takeovers; but it's still a long-established firm, founded in 1978, which may be when the design dates from too. Its restrained colour blocks are reminiscent of Swiss graphics, the sort of livery found on the pill packets Damien Hirst loves to use. He loves using cigarettes too, bringing me neatly back to Capstan Navy Cut – which, befitting their nautical branding, were notorious as the most tar-laden tabs on the market. These unfiltered beauties were once advertised to harassed mums thus: "When the kids are getting out of hand and driving you insane – Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Let Capstan take the strain!" • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“Capstan”, Kensington: not the evil cigarettes

“Banham”, Kensington: the ponciest burglar of all

Banham burglar alarm, Kensington, 2010“Banham” burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea, 2010 • Unlike the shadowy intruder device, which is simply a generic silhouetted figure, pantomime burglars come in many forms. This refugee from Dexy’s Midnight Runners, on the venerable Banham shield, is by far the most poncey. Who does he think he is, posing in his fancy frame – a gondolier, a mime artiste, a strolling player, a jolly onion seller? He’s even dressed in golden cloth, playing on the beribboned motto “Another Burglar Foiled”. Banham knows it has a reputation as the posho’s burglar alarm, ubiquitous in London’s more gilded postcodes, but this is pushing it. He’s a burglar, goddamit, not a member of the Royal Academy. Interestingly (to some), this New Romantic-looking livery is a fairly recent Banham strategy; previously their alarms were of the minimalist typographic persuasion. From functionalism to frippery: it must be the way society’s going • Spotted: Cheval Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington Banham burglar alarm, Kensington, 2010
“Banham”, Kensington: the ponciest burglar of all

“Scaff Guard”, Kensington: a very gory bulldog

Scaff Guard Ltd burglar alarm"Scaff Guard Ltd" burglar alarm, City of Westminster, 2010 • The word slavering could have been invented for this comically rabid beast, my final Tory dog for now. Appropriately for such a hammy performer, I found him by the Royal Albert Hall on Kensington Gore (which is also the name of a famous make of stage blood, as seen in Hammer Horror films). He wasn't even protecting a house – just some scaffolding. And there wasn't a real guard dog in sight. • Spotted: Kensington Gore, City of Westminster, London SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster Scaff Guard Ltd burglar alarm
“Scaff Guard”, Kensington: a very gory bulldog

“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

GD Security burglar alarm"GD Security" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea, 2005 • Another smart royal blue silhouette, another Conservative borough: namely affluent Kensington, home to some of the most expensive property in the world, and where Madonna was burgled twice, despite having a burglar alarm. The initials are unexplained, but by having a fairly recognisable bulldog image above them, we're invited to surmise that GD stands for Guard Dog, though it could be Good Defence, General Dynamics, Gold Digger, God, or whatever you fancy. Google research suggests it doesn't actually stand for anything, but the firm was formed in 1984 – an excellent year for surveillance. • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington GD Security burglar alarm
“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984