My Kentish Roots

Whilst searching the internet for anything to do with Teynham, my husband and I came across the website for the Teynham Parish Council and the Teynham News. My husband contacted Christina McIlroy, Clerk to Teynham Parish Council and explained to her that I was Teynham born, and through Christina made arrangements to subscribe to the Teynham News which he was told, has never happened before, so was a first. My husband was also told that any article for the Teynham News explaining our interest would be very welcome. This is also a first for me. My name is Vivien Borrill-Townsend (nee Weller). I am married to Richard and have four sons, Gordon, Christopher, James and Iain, and last but not least, a grandson Jonathan. We all live in the North East Lincolnshire village of Healing. I am the daughter of Gordon Victor Weller and Audrey (nee Greenwood). Gordon was the only son of George William Weller (Bill) and Eliza Rosina Weller (Lylie) (nee Miles) of Teynham. My father a Royal Air Force navigator was sadly killed in a plane crash in Germany in 1955 when I was 4 and a half years old.

I was born at No. 1 Triggs Cottages, Barrow Green, Teynham in November 1950, which was next door to my Grandmothers shop.

shop barrow green

The Shop, in Barrow Green, was originally run by my Great Grandmother, Julia Miles, who ran it until she died in 1935.

grandmother eliza rosina

My Grandmother, Eliza Rosina (Lylie), then took over the shop and ran it until its closure in 1973. In her retirement, she remained in Teynham residing at 7 Roper Road until her death in 1984. My elder brother, Philip and I, spent many a happy school holiday in Teynham, taken out on shop delivery trips by my Grandfather George (Bill) who incidentally was a Guard on the Railway, a church bell ringer, and a serving member of the Teynham Parish Council. The delivery trips consisted of an old shop bicycle, with my brother and I, plus groceries, making our way to the barges moored at Conyer. Of course, whilst there, we would stop off for a quick half at The Ship and would always be sworn to secrecy about our refreshments. The old bicycle was eventually traded in for a car.

I have since found out that the shop no longer exists, the building having been converted back into a private residence. I was often taken on the usual outings, hop, apple and cherry picking with my Grandmother, who had no fear of heights and would climb to the top of any cherry tree.

john milesOn the death of my Grandfather George (Bill) in 1960, my brother and I spent a term at Teynham School while “things” were sorted out. Looking back on this now it feels strange and gives a sense of pride knowing that I went to the same school as many of my family had before me.

My Great Grandparents, John and Julia Miles, had a large family consisting of five boys and six girls and I know that I still have a lot of family, both distant and close, some that I know and some that I don’t, still living in Teynham and the surrounding area.

Looking through some of my Grandmothers photographs with a cousin, Ruth Wright (nee Miles), who has just recently moved to Healing (Ruth being the Grand daughter of John and Julia Miles) we came across a funeral notice from The Kent Messenger dated March 8th 1930 relating to my Great Grandfather and Ruth’s Grandfather, J ohn Henry Parker Miles, born at Butlers Lane (now called Frognal Lane), Teynham. He died aged 59 years. He was a brick maker and in his later years carried out a business as a wood merchant and sawyer. This is the only reference to him that we have and if anyone has any more information about him, we would both be grateful to hear it. We know this is probably a long shot due to the length of time that has past.

Over several years I have developed a passion for Teynham historical memorabilia and have books by Elizabeth Selby, Don Sattin, Bygone Kent, and postcards of Teynham decorating my dining room, affectionately known as the ‘Kent’ room by my family. A recent acquisition, A Pictorial History of Teynham and District – Volume two, was given to me by another cousin, Marlene Badger (nee Matson), during a recent Easter visit to Healing with her husband Stephen, to see my family and I. Marlene is the Grand Daughter of Bert Matson and Alma Matson (nee Miles), Alma being my Grandmother Lylie’s sister.




long john miles








I have enclosed the only pictures I have of the shop Barrow Green and hope they may be of some interest, also the obituaries of my Great Grandfather and my Grandfather. I have long been proud of my Kentish roots, in particular the village of Teynham. My thanks to Christina McIlroy and Brian Sharman for encouraging me to write this article for the Teynham News.



shop barrow green

Vivien Borrill-Townsend

Webmaster: The author has informed us that John Miles was also known a Long John Miles, a fit description as the above photograph shows.

gordon weller bible entry


Ex Cllr Ron Boorman knew Gordon from school days and on finding the bible it brought back memories of the shop in Barrow Green which was run by Gordon’s Mother. Whilst browsing through Teynham Church he came across a bible in the Chancel. This was dedicated to Gordon Victor Weller by members of his family.




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