The First Mass Centres: 1901-1905

In 1864 the Sacred Heart, Kilburn, had been founded; St. Agnes, Cricklewood, followed in 1883 and our Lady of Willesden together with the Crownhill Road Convent in 1886. As for developing Willesden Green, other Churches moved in early: our neighbour St. Andrew’s was founded in 1880, the Baptist Chapel in Huddlestone Road in 1884, St. George’s Presbyterian Church in Willesden Lane (now a Hindu temple) in 1888; but while, from 1880 to 1900 the population of the parish of St. Andrew grew from 850 to over 11,000, for Catholics there was no church planned between Cricklewood and Harlesden.

In 1901 the Diocese decided that the needs of our Catholics could be met by the priests of Our Lady of Willesden; many of them were, for the next three years, to cycle along Harlesden Lane on Sundays to say the Mass at 30 Chapter Road. This was a non-Catholic school, owned by two non-Catholic ladies. The usher, incidentally, was a convert Jew, a Mr. Tasch, who later had a grandson ordained for the Diocese of Lancaster. But this schoolroom soon proved too small and in 1902 the Mass Centre was moved to 59 Chapter Road (now Andrew House, 59 St. Paul’s Avenue), where two rooms were turned into one. It was named St. Catherine’s; in addition to Mass there was Benediction at 3.30. In 1903 St. Catherine’s was designated a Mission.

In 1904 the Diocese received a petition from a group of parishioners, headed by Mr. W. J. Norman, that a resident priest be provided; his maintenance was promised.

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