Walter J Steggles was a leading member of the East London Group which was formed by John Cooper in 1925 with a core group of young artists who attended the Bethnal Green Men's Institute, and later moved to Bow and Bromley Evening Institute. The group was comprised of mainly local working men and women a number of whom were from very humble backgrounds, some of whom could not always afford the materials with which to produce their art. In such cases it was not uncommon for John Cooper himself to provide the necessary funds or materials for his students to continue on their chosen path. Recognition of their work soon followed in the form of exhibitions at the Institute followed in 1929 by an exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery sponsored by Sir Joseph Duveen and a Summer salon at The Redfern in 1929. There then followed a long succession of annual shows at The Lefevre Galleries which ran until the late thirties.

Amongst the group Walter was one of the most highly regarded members along with his brother Harold, Elwin Hawthorne, William Coldstream, Richard Sickert and Henry Silk. Newspaper cuttings from the time proclaimed "East End Workers as Artists" and "Fine Art in East London". Walter's work was exhibited at the Tate in early 1929 and some purchased by the director of the National Gallery, Mr Charles Aitken. In the Daily Mail on 17th Decemeber 1930 the well known art critic P G Konody wrote "If an Utrillo of London is to come into being- a painter who would interpret London not only as we see it but as we feel it - he will come from among the members of the East London Group and his name will be either Elwin Hawthorne or W J Steggles."

Walter's work was prolific and alongside the Group exhibitions he also had work shown at The Redfern, The Tate, The Whitechapel Gallery, Burlington Galleries, Agnews and provincial shows both at home and abroad. In a mixed British and French Artists Exhibition at Lefevre in the early thirties, along with other members of the group he exhibited alongside Paul Cezanne, Edouard Vuillard, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Paul Gaugin, Maurice Utrillo, Pablo Picasso and Auguste Renoir in a show that consisted of only 64 paintings. Amongst the English contingent were Walter and his brother Harold, Elwin Hawthorne, Henry Silk, Richard Sickert, and John Cooper plus artists outside the group such as R O Dunlop, William Staite-Murray, Alfred Sisley, Duncan Grant and Samuel J Peploe.

Shortly before the war he was commisioned by Shell-Mex BP to produce two images for their iconic "You can be sure of Shell" poster campaign series. He also studied as an engraver and etcher but this pathway of expression was cut short by the down-turn in the trade and subsequently by the war. In later life Walter's work turned more towards landscape and away from the East London urban views for which the group were famous.

Biography courtesy Alan Waltham