A 140-year-old keep in the heart of Reading could be given a new lease of life thanks to a £16,700 donation by the National Lottery.

Brock Keep on Oxford Road has been given funds to prepare plans foro essential conservation work focussing on the roof and turrets.

The restoration would allow the public access to the rooftop cafe and boardwalk with sweeping views of the town and the Thames Valley.

The site is managed by OpenHand OpenSpace (OHOS) who have been given cash by the Heritage Lottery Fund to work on the Victorian keep.

The group's chairman, Ingrid Jensen, said: “We are overjoyed to receive this support thanks to National Lottery Players.

"It paves the way for Brock Keep to have a secure future as West Reading Arts and Heritage Centre for the next 30 years, enabling long-term planning for all kinds of exciting public activities exploring the Keep’s heritage.

"The project offers access to a spectacular rooftop lookout, plus exhibition galleries on the lower floors, education and meeting spaces, opportunities to visit artists’ studios, and an imaginative programme of heritage activities for people of all ages."

The keep is one of the last surviving buildings in the country and has been used to house soldiers, the homeless and artists' works over the past since being built in 1877.

Sarah Hacker, lead member for culture on Reading Borough Council said: "I am delighted to hear that OpenHand OpenSpace has received this additional initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for their Brock Keep Project.

"The Keep has been an integral part of the heritage of Oxford Road for 140 years, and I am pleased that we are one step closer to securing the full grant needed to bring it to life."

The council will provide an extra £6,000 to the project whilst OHOS is giving £1,000 in cash and £17,000 of other contributions to restore the Grade II listed building.

The development phase begins this month with phase one running until May 2018 with the keep's arts programme running as normal.

Heritage projects including increased opening hours and exploration of the building's archives will run until 2021.

The £40k funding will allow OHOS to begin drawing up plans for another funding bid to allow major restoration work to go ahead.