Thomas W. Stainthorpe, sanitary engineer, was educated at Kirkleatham Grammar School, after which he completed an apprenticeship under E.D. Latham, Borough Engineer of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. After some time as assistant engineer in that office he was appointed town engineer of Loftus, Yorkshire. Later he became district engineer of the Eaton Urban District Council in Cheshire. He was an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a member of the Royal Sanitary Institute, a master in the Freemasons, and in his spare time played chess and practiced horticulture. In 1885 he married Mary Dodsworth, with whom he had four children.
Stainthorpe carried out some important sewerage and waterwork schemes in Devonshire before coming to South Africa in 1903. Settling in Sea Point, Cape Town, he was employed as assistant engineer on the headquarters staff of the Public Works Department of the Cape Colony until at least 1909. During this period he produced reports and plans of a proposed water scheme on Robben Island (1905), a drainage disposal works at Wynberg (1906), a proposed slaughter hall at the Mafikeng abattoir (1909), and the water supply of Uppington (1910). By 1910 he was associated with the Irrigation Department of the colony. In that year he delivered a paper entitled "A plea for the sewerage of the Cape Peninsula" at the annual congress of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he was a member. The paper was published in the association's Report for that year (pp. 69-76). After the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he was appointed in April 1912 as temporary sanitary engineer in the Department of Irrigation of the Union. In 1926 he compiled a plan of the main drainage in the Kalk Bay / Muizenberg municipality.