Walter Hibbert Phillips was born in Neath, to parents John (grocer), and Mary Ann.
He was educated at Llandovey School, and won a scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford where he studied anatomy and physiology. He graduated in 1873, and started teaching at Bedford County School, in Kempston wherehe was promoted to second master in1881.
In 1995, the Boys Public Day School Company appointed him as the first Headmaster of the new school in South Shields to take up his appointment at the school's opening, in May - about which the Shields Gazette wrote, in February 1885:
During his residence [at Bedford County School] he has taken classes in all the subjects taught at a school of this kind, namely a modern school for the sons of the middle-class, and has been ... specially commended by the examiners appointed by the Cambridge Syndicate ... The testimonials of Mr Phillips are of the most excellent character, and it is felt that the Council have made a most judicious selection in appointing him.
Towards the end of 1889, Mr Phillips resigned for reasons not yet uncovered, and was replaced by George D Dakyns.
He died in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, around the beginning of 1902 at the age of 54.