The first photographs acquired by LGRP were F W Brewer's negatives of the GWR, in 1939. The Second World War then intervened, but 1946 marked the beginning of a great period of acquisition. One of the most significant collections to be incorporated into the growing library was that of the eminent Dr Tice F Budden. (Further references to Dr Budden are to be found in other NRM collections). Nearly 1,150 of his negatives were absorbed and catalogued, and copy negatives were taken from prints in his albums. Other famous names that came to be represented in the LGRP collection were H L Salmon, C J L Romanes and J E Kite, whilst J B Sherlock, H R Norman and C L Mowat sold photographs of stations on the GWR, LSWR and in Scotland and Ireland. Stations in the 1940s and 1950s are also represented, from the archives of the Railway & Technical Press, but the quality is not as high as the earlier images.
Registers list all the negatives in numerical order, with brief details of locomotive type, wheel arrangement, company, date and location. Published lists produced by Ian Allan Ltd, are divided by railway company, locomotive type or location. Reference prints for most of the images are on access in the Reading Room although not all negatives are represented.