A Short History of Holy Cross Primary
With the sinking of local pits in the 19th century and an influx of Irish labourers and their families, came the need for a Catholic Church in Hucknall. The first church was built in 1886, the band room in Whyburn Street, Butlers Hill, had been used for Mass, became available for conversion for the education of Catholic children. This hall soon proved to be too small, and when a new school opened in Carlingford Road in 1888, there were 80 boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 12 on roll. The only teacher was Miss L. Dixon and she was helped by the Parish Priest Fr. Macdonnell, and at times his housekeeper lent a hand. There was no government grant for the teacher’s salary, and the pupils paid two pence a week for their education. The school became a “Free School” in 1891 when it was placed on the list for annual grants from the Education Board.
By the turn of the century the school room was inadequate and a new wing was added. In 1905 the Parish Priest faced a great problem when His Majesty’s Inspector of Schools declared the toilets to be quite inadequate, and allowed one month for improvements, failing which the school would be closed. Happily the necessary funds were found and the school was saved. Another threat of closure was made in 1908 because the playground was considered too small to accommodate Kindergarten and seniors, this problem was solved by closing the Kindergarten. In 1909 Miss D. Lalor was appointed Headmistress, a post she held until her retirement in 1950. By 1912 a further extension to the playground was necessary and so the Parish Priest sacrificed his small garden at the rear of the presbytery to make an infant playground. In 1929 there were 100 children on the register.
During Canon O’Reilly’s thirty years at Hucknall, the school buildings were continually improved, and a very high standard was achieved by the teachers. By the time Fr. Dunne came to the Parish in 1936, the school buildings were nearly sixty years old and rapidly reaching the end of their useful life. Land was becoming very difficult to obtain due to the rapid expansion of the town, but Fr. Dunne inaugurated a “Land Fund” which through the efforts of the Parishioners had in 1939 reached a total of £1250.
It seemed certain that, for the intervention of WW2, Hucknall would have had a modern Catholic School in 1939. In 1944 another extension had to be made to the school in the form of a kitchen for serving school meals. The first meals were served on 10th July 1944 to 35 children.
When Mr. J.W. Bullin took over the Headship in 1950, the school was still in Carlingford Road and the number of pupils had risen to 132. Mr Bullin had 52 children between the ages of 10 and 15 in his class. During 1957 Canon Allen campaigned for a new school, petitioning the Minister of Education and inviting MP’s and the press to see for themselves the necessity of a new building. It was not until 1963 that Canon Kavanagh succeeded in getting a replacement for the Catholic All Age School into the County Planning Programme.
The L.E.A. reserved a site off Walkmill Dive for a new Catholic Primary School in 1965. With the advent of comprehensive education for children over 11 years, the Department for Education approved the plans. On 27th December 1966, the bulldozers started to dig and level the land for the new school. No time was lost and the new building was ready for occupation in September 1967. So ending thirty years of waiting and negotiating. This was the end of an era, children of 11+ were transferred to Trinity High School in Aspley, as the new school was for infant and junior children only.
The new Holy Cross School was blessed by his Lordship The Bishop of Nottingham The Rt. Rev. Edward Ellis on July 18th 1970.
Mr Bullin, who attended the school as a boy, retired as Headteacher at Christmas 1968. He served as a School Manager from 1970 to 1975. He passed away on March 12th 1976.