In the early 19th century the population of Hucknall was around 1,500. We do not know how many were Catholics but we presume that there were only a few and insufficient to justify the establishment of a mission. By the middle of the century the town grew and the population increased to about 3000 but this was still too few to warrant a Catholic mission. Most of the townsfolk at that time worked in the manufacturing of shawls and hosiery. However, it was not long before the first seeds of a Catholic community were sown; the discovery of coal in the area brought a great number of workers to Hucknall including Catholics from Ireland and Catholic colliers from Whitwick, Bloxwich and other areas. Work on the new pits began in 1861 and coal was first turned three years later. As a result of the industrial boom, the population rose to 10,000 within twenty years.

The Bishop of Nottingham, Bishop Bagshawe, realised the need for a mission in Hucknall and so in 1879, commissioned Fr. Cantwell, a priest at the cathedral, to do whatever he could. Fr. Cantwell began his ministry in Hucknall, saying Mass in a small room in Whyburn Street, measuring 30 by 25 feet which he hired from a Mr. Smith for four shillings per week. Today, Whyburn Street no longer exists. Almost one year later the Bishop appointed Fr. J. J. Hooker as the first parish priest to Hucknall. The parish was dedicated to the Holy Cross and in its early years the mission extended to Bulwell where a Mass centre was opened in 1881. Parish records show that the Bulwell chapel was served by the priest from Hucknall.