Richard Phillips

Location: Penicuik, Midlothian
About me...

I have been involved in communications, security, and crime prevention for much of my life, working in central and local government, and the private sector, and have worked as a locksmith. I have advised on heritage locks and have been a lifelong lock collector. Along the way, I’ve also worked in training, and the book trade, and have been a magician.

Now retired, I have presented talks at work, and to Probus, Rotary, history groups, U3A, and others.




About my Talks...


These talks are all non-technical with illustrations on Microsoft Windows Powerpoint. Duration normally ¾ hour, can be varied. I ask that a data projector be provided — I bring my pictures on a laptop with a VGA and USB socket (but not HDMI) or a USB memory stick. For some talks, I also bring some physical exhibits to pass round. I am open to questions afterwards.


I charge no fee but have to ask for a contribution for travel expenses, currently (2020) of £40. I can travel the Central Belt and eastern Scotland up to about an hour’s drive from Penicuik.
Do please ask, if there is anything further you would like to know — I look forward to hearing from you.

Often available at short notice.

My Contact Details:

01968 768954

Brand New

A trip down Memory Lane to the grocer’s shop. Bright yellow custard and Bovril in a mug – surely some of our favourite things. Revel in the nostalgia of stories of a selection of popular food brands and their advertising campaigns from a bygone age.

Secret Communications

Stories of messages in code. Encryption is important today to all of us. With a history of war and diplomacy, today cryptography now controversially touches politics, liberty, and crime. And your plastic bank card.

Safe Bind, Safe Find — locks and keys.

We all rely on locks for our personal and property security, yet we rarely give this technology a thought. From Sumer to Silicon Valley, this talk ranges over history, lockpicking challenges, crime, personalities, and some stories about locks. I concentrate on 19-20C key locks in this talk, but open to questions afterwards. For Neighbourhood Watches, the talk can concentrate more about modern locks and their security; and maybe some crime prevention advice.

Defence of the Realm

Defence of the Realm — a look at some ‘castles’ in Britain from the Norman Conquest to the Cold War.
Castle-building did not end with the Middle Ages, they changed form, before sinking underground. From towers to tunnels to tumbledown ruins……

Safes and Safebreaking

Safes and Safebreaking — some account of the contest between safemakers and burglars. From the invention of the safe in1834 to today, with a few safebreaking challenges along the way. Covering some notable crimes, including the fall of a world-leading safe company by corruption.

German Spies in Britain in WWII

Just a few of them: some failures, some successes — though not for Germany. How Britain’s MI5 ran all Germany’s WW2 spying operations in Britain for Britain’s benefit.

The Buck Stops Here [Moneyboxes]

Toys for children and adults, with design and production changing with society and technology. Looking mainly at more modern, and especially action (mechanical) moneyboxes.



The Buck Stops Here.
Richard delivered a presentation on money boxes. His slides were clear and comprehensive. He brought several examples with him to be passed around the audience for close inspection. He did not run over time and allowed time for questions.

Stanley  –  November 2023


Safe Bind, Safe Find — locks and keys.
An interesting presentation with a variety of visual aids. Richard is obviously extremely knowledgeable about this subject.

Angela  –  November 2023


Richard Phillips research of his topics is evident in his presentations.
“Secret Communications” was no exception, compressing detailed facts from several hundreds years on spying methods was fascinating and interesting to members of our Probus Club.

Robert  – Probus – April 2023


Richard Phillips privides a very knowledgeable insight into the intricate workings of Safes and Locks etc and communicates very well with members of attending his presentations.
Thoughtful ciculation of his devices adds very good ” hands -on” interactions.

Robert  – Probus – Nov 2022


Richard Phillips Contact Details:

01968 768954

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