Sir David Attenborough cut the ribbon on the city’s new museum.
Hundreds of people packed into Wakefield One to watch the legendary broadcaster and naturalist honour the city.
Sir David, whose latest series Africa has already had the nation gripped this year, has often spoken of his admiration for Wakefield explorer and naturalist Charles Waterton, who is considered to have created one the world’s first nature reserves at Walton Hall.
And he praised Waterton further in a passionate speech to the crowds, which had been gathering from 3am.
Sir David, 86, said: “Charles Waterton was little known not only internationally but, shamefully, in this country too. But he was a great and important figure.
“One of the things that this spectacular building has done is to make a marvellous, beautiful, fascinating museum. And within it there is that wonderful reminder of one of the great men who lived close to this city in the 19th century.”
Wakefield Council’s chief executive Joanne Roney said Sir David’s visit was the “jewel” in the short history of the £31m civic building, which opened on Burton Street in November last year.
She said: “To hear Sir David Attenborough enthusing about the museum has absolutely brought it to life and has been the jewel in the opening of this building.”