Between 1886 and 1894 the North Eastern Railway had 171 class C goods locomotives built with compound engines. However, these had an insufficient reliability and excessive consumption. At the same time, 30 class C1 locomotives were built, which had a simple engine. Ultimately, between 1901 and 1913, all class C locomotives were rebuilt to class C1 and the entire class was then renamed C.
In 1923 all locomotives came to the LNER and became class J21. The first few locomotives were retired in 1929, but most were still in use in 1943. British Railways took over 81 in 1948, the last of which were retired in 1962. Today only the locomotive with the BR number 65033 still exists, which is being restored to operational condition in Loughborough for several years.