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Alarm Bell Boxes a Study


WessexVictoria MacDonald (pictured), an art director who became obsessed with burglar alarm boxes on buildings has compiled a database of thousands of examples of the ‘bell boxes’ with a critique of each design. The fascination has meant that the blog is divided into dozens of specific sections in terms of geography, design and even the political colour of the constituency the box is seen in. 

The blog ‘Burglar Alarm Britain’ now has thousands of followers across the country and fellow fans send in their own pictures for Victoria to critique and give her increasingly valuable opinions on. 

The blog includes essays and other information about the bizarre boxes that we all see but rarely notice. 

‘Bell boxes’ – as they are correctly called – are not merely a deterrent or advertisement. As the name suggests, they used to house the ‘bell’, but now they contain more sophisticated sirens and even flashing lights linked to the detection alarm equipment installed within a premises. 

One of Victoria’s favourites is the new boxes of Wessex Fire & Security. The company logo is an owl and it has recently been redesigned and shows the cute bird happily perched. Victoria wrote that she featured Wessex’s previous design and it was one of her favourites: “The firm has just updated their identity, so I’m happy to report that they’ve kept the wise old bird: far more charming than the fierce beasts popular in more urban areas, and an appealing contrast to the dull corporate-type bell box designs that seem to be proliferating.” 

Chris Stott, Wessex Fire & Security’s MD, said: “Bell boxes have an important purpose; the principle alarm indication for the protected property is housed within the bell box. The box is therefore also protected and is very much an integral part of the overall alarm system. But they also follow in a long tradition of buildings displaying things. For example, ‘fire marks’, often in the form of large ornate signs, were first put on homes to prove that the householder had paid for fire cover. Such signs are now very collectable.” 

Victoria, from London, said: “While pursuing a seemingly endless project photographing shop-fronts, I started to become equally fascinated by the naively-designed burglar alarms that adorned them. And this sad typographical obsession still has me in its grip over ten years later. 

Click here to visit the blog