In 1910, the Natal Government Railways placed two Class A steam locomotives with a 4-6-2 Pacific wheel arrangement in service, built in their Durban workshops. In 1912, when these locomotives were assimilated into the South African Railways, they were renumbered and designated Class 2C. The 2A and 2B classifications were never used.
The Class 2C was the second locomotive type to be designed and built in South Africa, after the Natal Government Railways 4-6-2TT Havelock of 1888.
When more locomotives were required for passenger traffic on the Natal Government Railways (NGR) mainline on the section between Estcourt and Charlestown on the Transvaal border, where gradients were less severe than in the coastal region, two 4-6-2 Pacific type locomotives were built in the Durban workshops of the NGR and equipped with Type TJ tenders. The locomotive was designed during 1907 by NGR Locomotive Superintendent D.A. Hendrie as a redesigned version of his NGR Class A Hendrie A of 1905.
The Hendrie C, as it was popularly known, was similar to the Class A Hendrie A in general proportions, but with Walschaerts valve gear, 1 1⁄2 inches (38 millimetres) larger diameter coupled wheels, a larger boiler with a higher boiler pressure and a more enclosed cab which offered better protection to the crew. They were equipped with Hendrie's steam reversing gear and had wide Belpaire fireboxes, carried down between the rear frames which had been widened by using a bridle casting.
The cylinders were mounted horizontally since the Walschaerts valve gear did not require inclined cylinders like those on the Class A Hendrie A with its Stephenson valve gear. The coupled wheels were later retyred to a larger diameter, from 52 1⁄2 to 54 inches (1,334 to 1,372 millimetres).