One of the best-known figures in the recent history of Skipton’s Ermysted’s Grammar School has died at the age of 90.

Wally Evans worked at the school for 39 years, becoming head of the physics department and then deputy headmaster for many years.

Mr Evans, whose first name was actually Walford, was born in the village of Cymau in North Wales, one of a large family.

He won a scholarship to Hawarden Grammar School, then went to the University College of North Wales in Bangor to study physics.

His student career was interrupted by the Second World War, which saw him join the Royal Signals and first come to Yorkshire to train at Catterick Garrison.

Mr Evans, who became a captain and later acting major in the Army, took a group of raw recruits to Egypt, where he worked on laying telephone cables across the desert.

He had started playing rugby at university, and competed alongside many top players of the day in matches while in Egypt – sometimes playing on sand.

He returned to Bangor after the war, marrying his wife Mary, a farmer’s daughter from Todmorden who had been evacuated to Bangor from her studies in London due to the conflict, in March 1947. On learning she was expecting their first child, Christine, he did teacher training and got a job to support his new family, which meant he could not finish his degree.

He first worked at a school in Gloucester, and played rugby for the city’s famous team. But in 1950 he applied for a job at Ermysted’s, first staying in its boarding house, then moving with his family to Skipton’s Broughton Road. They all quickly took to the town, and Mr Evans played in the second row for Skipton Rugby Club, captaining the side in the early 1950s.

In his early years at Ermysted’s Mr Evans also taught at night school in Skipton, Barnoldswick and Keighley. He became head of Ermysted’s physics department and deputy headmaster, also coaching rugby for a time. He moved to Tarn Moor Crescent until his retirement in 1989, when one of his farewell presents was a cruise to Egypt.

His eldest daughter, Christine Harrison, said: “I think dad’s real skill at Ermysted’s was in keeping his really clever boys going, whilst at the same time making the subject accessible to those who were less academically talented.”

On retirement he and his wife moved to Linton, where Mr Evans started a new career helping on the farm run by his daughter and her husband, Michael, and later their son Tom.

A service of thanksgiving for his life was held at St Michael’s Church, Linton, on Tuesday. Mr Evans leaves his widow, his daughters Christine and Gillian, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.