Cape Town became a municipality in 1840. A liberal constitution was granted to the Cape Colony in 1853 and the first elected Parliament met on 30 June 1854. On 28 November 1872 a complete self-government for the Cape Colony was promulgated by a proclamation of Sir Henry Barkley, who laid the first foundation stone of the present Houses of Parliament in 1875.Old Pier – Year 1900
In the second half of the century the building of railways, the opening of diamond and gold mines in the interior, and all their manifold and far-reaching economic consequences added enormously to the commercial importance of Cape Town. The sleepy settlement awoke and began to grow as never before. A railway was completed to Stellenbosch and Wellington in 1863. The discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West a few years later demanded its extension to the distant diamond fields. In 1885 it had barely reached Kimberley when the Witwatersrand goldfields presented a still more distant goal. Within the next decade the opening of gold mines in Southern Rhodesia lured the railhead still farther northward. Cape Town was transformed within a generation from a roadstead on Table Bay, to one of the major ports serving a rapidly developing sub-continent. During the mid 19th century, harbour improvements were urgently needed. The port in Table Bay possessed only four jetties, and recurrent wrecks in the bay were grim reminders of its exposure to north-westerly gales. The storms of 1857 and 1865 accounted for 24 shipwrecks off the Cape coast. The work was started in 1860 and was completed in 1870 when the Alfred Dock was inaugurated by Prince Alfred. Completion of the Robinson Graving Dock twelve years later equipped the port to repair the largest vessels of the time, and the extension of the harbour works to form the outer Victoria Basin by the end of the century endowed Table Bay with a commodious modern harbour. The waterfront became increasingly cluttered with a miscellaneous collection of skin-drying, wool-processing, fish-smoking, soap making and boat-building establishments.