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Decaying WW2 cash 'worth £1m' found under shop

Bundles of decaying Second World War bank notes stashed away in case of Nazi invasion have been discovered under the floorboards of an old clothes store.

Shopfitters found the cash on the site of what was once Bradley Gowns – now a Cotswold Outdoor store – in Brighton.

The hoard of £1 and £5 notes adds up to about £30,000, which is the equivalent of more than £1m today.

Bradley Gowns – which had a flagship store in Chepstow Place, London – had a number of famous clientele, including members of the royal family and Winston Churchill.

Old money. Pic: Sussex police/ Joel Adams
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The money has a combined modern day value of £1m. Pic: Sussex Police/Joel Adams

The Brighton branch was open from 1936 to 1973 and much of the money dates back to the 1940s, with a distinctive blue design identifying it as emergency wartime currency issued by the Bank of England at the start of that decade.

All of the money was covered in dirt and debris when it was pulled from beneath the floorboards and is now in the possession of Sussex Police for safekeeping.

Howard Bradley – the sole surviving heir of the family that ran the chain of shops – told The Brighton Argus he believed it had been hidden in case the forces of Adolf Hitler mounted a successful campaign on British soil.

Winston Churchill arrives at Church House to receive the Honorary Freedom of the City of Westminster in 1946
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Winston Churchill was said to be a customer of one of the company’s London branches

“After Dunkirk it was looking pretty bleak,” he told the local newspaper.

“The family’s place in London was bombed. Banks were bombed. My grandmother even had to be rescued from under a pile of rubble after a doodlebug (a German rocket) hit the building she was in.

“People on the continent were buying their way out – out of Austria, out of France. They might have worried they’d have to buy their way out, maybe it was part of a getaway plan.”

While the Brighton store survived the war, Nazi bombing raids meant that some of the company buildings – including a hat-making facility in the capital – were destroyed.

The family firm lives on today as Bradley’s Quality Dry Cleaning, which is run by Mr Bradley in Milton Keynes.

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