The canal was promoted by Acts of Parliament in 1793 and 1796 but the southern section was not completed until 1816. Initially, it was profitable but the railways soon began to attract traffic away from the canal. By the Second World War the canal was almost impassable. In 1947, Tom Rolt journeyed along the canal and required GWR to raise Lifford Bridge, which was blocking a statutory right of navigation. In 1958, Warwickshire County Council intended to close the southern part of the canal, but two members of the newly formed canal society made a journey by canoe and proved that the canal was used. The National Trust took over responsibility for the Southern Stratford-upon-Avon canal and a restoration plan was put into action. Following work by volunteers, army personnel and prison groups, the canal was reopened by her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1964. In 1988, the canal was returned to British Waterways, which now manages it.