Bill Egner was born on 20th February, 1911, in Jarrow, of
German parents, George August and Kate Egner, who ran a pork
butcher business while living in Monkton Road, Jarrow.
His secondary education was at Jarrow Senior School
from 1922 to 1928 and his first university was Armstrong
College, Newcastle, where he was awarded a BSc (Hons)
in mathematics and physics. In 1931 he went on to St John's
College, Cambridge, and in 1933 was awarded a BA as a
wrangler (obtaining a first class honours in part II of the
mathematical tripos). In 1934 he completed his Teacher's Certificate with Cambridge, and in 1937 was awarded his Cambridge MA.
His first teaching post (1933-1935) was at Holly Lodge High School for Boys,
in Smethwick (near Birmingham), followed by two years at Hymers College, Hull,
a boys' grammar school
In 1938 he became Head of Mathematics at Pocklington Grammar School and only a year later, in September 1939, became Headmaster at
Easingwold Grammar School from 1939. This was about the time that he married Annie Young.
For the war years, Bill Egner registered for service with the RAF, and in 1941, whilst a teacher at Easingwold, was appointed a temporary scientific officer in the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
He moved to Derbyshire
in 1946 to serve as Headmaster of Heanor Grammar School
until he joined Ormskirk Grammar School as its
Head from 1951 to 1955.
When Bill Lucas retired as Head of the South Shields Grammar-Technical School
for Boys, Bill Egner was appointed Head from September, 1955. On his arrival,
he made it clear that he wanted the school to become one of the finest in the North.
He had high expectations of boys, parents and teachers and, in large part, they were
Even after just one year he observed "there has been a noticeable improvement
in and out of school, in personal appearance and bearing, and in the outward signs
of loyalty to the school". This may, in part, be due to his change of rules which
made the optional school uniform compulsory.
He was aware that the school had a very good record in sports, but was keen to encourage
interest in other pursuits, such as music, art and drama.
His hand touched every aspect of the school from the moment he arrived, and throughout
his time as Head, the school introduced many innovations - the school was the first
to have a sixth-form centre, and to operate a computerised timetable. He served on
the committee of National Academic Awards, and the Schools Council, as well as being
a Methodist Local Preacher, a JP and a Rotarian. As if these weren't enough, he was
awarded a CBE in 1974, and his full title was impressive - William E Egner, CBE, JP,
MA (Cantab), BSc, FSS, FIMA.
Despite all this, he did have some quirky ways. Keith Bulley recalls that during
a teachers' strike around 1970:
... the "Boss" somehow kept 1100 boys in the
school hall in order by sheer force of personality using
one of those old mono record players and a recording of
Kathleen Ferrier singing "Blow the Wind Southerly"
and other favourties of his, amplified using the microphone
which stood on his desk on the stage.
He was awared the CBE in 1974, and retired at Easter, 1976.