Walter Hanstock was born around 1842 at Chesterfield. He was listed in the census of 7 April 1861 at Castle Yard, Chesterfield, as an architect's apprentice aged 18, the son of William Hanstock, a publican and printer. He came to Batley around 1864. It is thought to have been in about 1864 that Walter Hanstock was taken on as a draughtsman/architectural assistant to Michael Sheard.
Hanstock had RIBA training, and clearly proved highly competent, being made a partner after a few years. He was listed as the head of household in the 2 April 1871 census at Lamplands, Batley, as an architect. In 1881 a Hospital building was erected, Carlinghow Field Hill, to designs by Walter Hanstock, which he provided free of charge.
Hanstock was listed as the head of household in the 3 April 1881 census at Lamplands, Field Hill, Batley, as an architect. He and Michael Sheard were employing Max William Blakeley as a trainee at this time. Walter Hanstock's artistic talents can be seen not only in architectural work but in some sketches illustrating 'Morley Ancient and Modern' published in 1886 in 1886.
In the census of 5 April 1891 Hanstock was listed as the head of household at 35 Bath Street, North Meols, Southport, Lancashire, perhaps seeking relief from the gout from which he suffered. He took his son Arthur Walter Hanstock into the practice in 1898.
Walter Hanstock died on 6 October 1900 at Harrogate. According to Hanstock's obituary, his death was attributable to gout, from which he had suffered for 27 years. He was buried at the Cemetery, Batley. Hanstock was responsible for many buildings in Batley, initially in partnership with Michael Sheard, but later in partnership with his son Arthur Walter Hanstock. The firm made a speciality of public baths, and in 1899 they were awarded second prize in the competition for Leeds City Markets.