Netherfield was not officially a township until 1885, when it became a separate parish. Before that the land was common pasture known as the Nether Field, enclosed in 1792 and lying in the parish of Carlton. A central trackway divided these enclosed fields, a route still followed by the main street of Netherfield, Victoria Road, with many of the other streets following the lines of old field edges. The building in Netherfield took place in about 1840; however, as late as 1871 the population was still only 67, with a few additional houses and one or two farms having been built.
The Grantham to Nottingham railway line was built in 1850 and was operated by the Great Northern Railway Company (GNR) after 1855. The construction of engine sheds and sidings in 1875 followed the construction of the Derbyshire Extension Line and required the expansion of housing to accommodate railway workers. The GNR built a row of twelve houses, called Traffic Terrace in 1874, and by 1881 had built a second row, called Locomotive Terrace. Eventually, another terrace of 39 houses was built by the London and North Western Railway to accommodate their workers and families. Unfortunately, none of these developments has survived.
By 1881 the population of Netherfield had risen to 735; in 1891 it was 2,648 and by 1901 had nearly doubled, to 4,646. In 1885 St. George’s church and vicarage were built and by 1900 several nonconformist chapels were also in existence. Several large factories were built, taking advantage of cheap land and of a railway line that brought workers from Nottingham. A ready supply of water from the Sherwood sandstone beds, only a short distance below ground, was used to supply the factory boilers. The factories included Britannia cotton mill (Bourne’s mill), Lawrence’s furniture factory, Shaw’s’ printing works and several smaller businesses.
By 1910 Netherfield had become a township. Large numbers of women worked in the factories, notably in Bourne’s mill, where they were known as Bourne’s Angels. Three schools had opened, and Victoria Road became a modern shopping street, shoppers coming by train even from Nottingham to purchase goods from shops such as Bessy Harlock’s Ceylon Tea Store. A large area of land was opened for allotments, some of which still exist. A large number of Netherfield children and their parents turned out in 1928 when King George V visited the area, which by then had become a place of employment for many local workers.
The decline in railway traffic resulted in the closure of the marshalling yard in 1970 and by 1985 all the large factories in Netherfield had closed. Colwick Light Railway also closed at this time, and modern housing was built on their former sites. Two of the three schools closed, several of the non-conformist chapels shut, and by the early 21st century Netherfield was becoming a dormitory town, with few shops. The site of the old marshalling yard became Victoria Retail Park, with an array of supermarkets, shopping outlets, eateries, and a large car auction site.