This film is part of Free

Cure for Potato Blight

Battling biology with a Burgundy mixture, protecting potatoes by the application of science

Gardening show 1918 2 mins Silent


The outbreak of WWI disrupted the shipping of foodstuffs from abroad and home-grown main crops filled the nation's stomachs when imports could not be relied on. But disease posed a threat to production as great as the enemy: the infamous potato blight that had ravaged Ireland. The solution includes copper sulphate and the popular music-hall comedian George Robey lends a comic turn to the preparation of the mixture.

This film is one of a series of short patriotic stories known as Film Tags sponsored by the Ministry of Information during WWI and produced by the Hepworth Manufacturing Company. These propaganda items communicating wartime advice to civilians were included in cinema newsreels and many dealt with home food production. War Agriculture Committees promoted potatoes and many local councils invested in sprayers and materials for making Burgundy mixture. One of the earliest fungicides, the concoction is used to this day by organic food producers avoiding synthetic chemical solutions.