"The settlement of the early area reflects the patterns of early agriculture and grazing on the Cumberland Plain generally." Farmers grew mainly wheat and maize. From 1810, however, potatoes and other vegetables, as well as oranges, peaches and grapes were also produced.
By 1828, the various farms of the Prospect and Seven Hills district varied widely in size and function. Out of forty-seven landowners who provided details of their holdings in the Census of that year, seventeen held less than 100 acres each, twenty four owned medium-sized farms of 100-1000 acres, while only six people owned large estates of over 1000 acres.
The pattern of agriculture was reversed for grazing - the six large landowners owned 58.6 per cent of the cattle, and a massive 91.7 per cent of all sheep - only one medium settler, George Best, owned sheep.
The clays of Merrylands induced Arthur Holroyd to experiment with burning pipes and tiles at Sherwood Scrubs from 1868. In fact the whole of the area had its value in the high clay compositions of its soil.
At Merrylands, development centred on the production of bricks and tiles. By 1880 A.T. Holroyd's Sherwood works had been joined by Rawson Button and Co's Merrylands brickworks, probably located on Pitt Row (Pitt Street) near the station. In 1884 the huge building material firm Goodlet and Smith took over the existing Junction Brick and Pottery works between Granville and Merrylands.
To the west of the municipality, in the Prospect area, land was being set-aside to quarry metal. By 1893 there were several quarries east of the new reservoir at Prospect. Modern quarrying at Prospect began in 1901 with the establishment of the Emu and Prospect Gravel and Road Metal Company, the early forerunner of the huge Boral works.
During the 1880s, hundreds of workers came to build the new reservoir at Prospect that would provide clean, plentiful water to the population of Sydney. An aqueduct and pipelines were constructed from Prospect to Pipe Head at Guildford.
The growth of new and established industries consolidated the existing population and attracted more to the area. Much of the material of the red-roofed suburban landscape that typified Sydney of the 1910s and 1920s came from Holroyd. Brick, pipe and tile works proliferated in Merrylands, Guildford and Wentworthville.
One industry that came to support the local population was Bonds cotton spinning mill at Pendle Hill, which was established in 1923. It was equipped with machinery worth £250,000 and employed 500 workers, mostly women. The railway station at Pendle Hill was opened to serve the mill.
Until the early 1960s, Holroyd's industrial character remained much as it had been in the 1920s and 1930s; most of the brick, tile and pottery works were still in production. Bonds at Pendle Hill and Nunns at Guildford were joined by two other weaving mills. The blue metal quarries at Prospect, Macleod's flourmill at Merrylands, the sawmills, timberyards and ice works were all in existence. Primary industry was still important, mainly in the form of market gardening and poultry farming.
Shops and services, like houses and industries, were considered indicators of Holroyd's vitality and status. During the 1960s the emergence of shopping malls, supermarkets and large centres not only radically altered an important aspect of everyday life, but also assisted in the modernisation of the area's image.
Source: Karskens, Grace Holroyd: a Social History of Western Sydney Kensington, NSW: NSW University Press, 1991