Tyne & Wear

Newcastle Kard Bar fire: Body confirmed as early Viz supporter

Brian Sandells Image copyright Family Photo
Image caption Brian Sandells' body was not discovered until the fierce blaze was brought under control

A body found in the remains of a burnt-out shop in Newcastle city centre has been confirmed as the shop's owner.

Brian Sandells' body was found after firefighters spent five hours bringing the massive blaze at the Kard Bar, on Cross Street, under control on Tuesday.

Northumbria Police said the 81-year-old's remains had now been identified. A force spokesman said detectives were still probing the cause of the blaze.

Mr Sandells was one of the first traders to stock the cult comic Viz.

He lived in a flat above the card and memorabilia shop.

More than 50 firefighters were at the scene at the height of the blaze and thick smoke caused the closure of Westgate Road, Clayton Road and Cross Street.

The irreverent magazine Viz was founded by Chris Donald, in Newcastle, in 1979.

Mr Donald, who is now a presenter for BBC Newcastle, paid tribute and said Mr Sandells, a former graphic artist, used to give him tips on how to improve the publication.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Shoppers were advised to avoid the area while the fire was brought under control

He said: "Brian had found out about the comic and had seen people reading it and he asked if he could stock it.

"So I had to go and see him and he gave me a bit of a business lecture there and then on what could be improved in the comic.

"It was just on the presentation side of things as he been involved in graphic design when he'd been doing his national service."

'Half a poster'

He also said Mr Sandells helped get the comic off the ground and promote it.

He added: "He was the first person to ever advertise in Viz - he asked if he could put an advert in the comic.

"I was once going through the attic of the shop with him and he said to me: 'Do you want any of these posters to give away with your comic? Unfortunately I don't have any smaller - they might be a bit big.'

"I said: 'That will make it even funnier Brian if we cut them in half and give them half an Osmond's poster - just their legs.'

"So we did that - guillotined them and put them in the comic."

Image caption Thick smoke from the blaze on Cross Street could be seen across the city centre on Tuesday

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