Thousands of visitors who flock to St Ives Estate in Harden will now be greeted by a new information centre which was opened by the great-grandson of the beauty spot’s last private owner.

Michael Ferrand flew from his home in France for the ceremony at the end of work to transform an old coach house at a cost of some £250,000.

A descendant of William Ferrand, who sold the estate to Bingley Town Council in 1927, he jokingly told the Friends of St Ives and other supporters his ancestor had got rid of it because he was fed up with ordinary people trespassing.

Friends of St Ives chairman Pam Laking said: “Michael said when came back to St Ives he could feel friendly ghosts in a special magical place.

“We all know what he meant, we all think it’s magical too!”

She said the new visitor centre had cost £250,000 and been funded by a donation from waste management giant WREN.

“There are two great rooms and it’s just brilliant,” she said.

“They have been decorated using traditional methods and materials such as lime plaster and lime wash on the walls and the floor flags have all been retained and cleaned.

“Outside the building has been re-pointed using an old type of lime mortar, which gives a lovely effect to look at.”

Prints of family portraits of the Ferrand family and its family tree form part of a display which captures the history of the St Ives estate which stretches as far back as the Iron Age.

As well as tidying and painting the rooms inside and out, 14 volunteers at the YBS Yorkshire Actioneering Team weeded and planted ancient varieties of fruit trees and shrubs in the historic walled garden across the road.

“There’s loads more to do in the coach house - now we want to get the old 1800’s range restored and working so we can do cooking demonstrations,” said Mrs Laking.

“St Ives is so beautiful and lovely and it’s got a fantastic future ahead of it for all the community to enjoy,” she said.

The 500-acre site is now owned by Bradford Council.