Now in semi-retirement, working with his daughter at The New Inn, he started his career on July 26, 1969, at the age of 15, when he travelled from his home in Yorkshire to Reading to work with Trust House Hotels.
Little did he know that 50 years on, he would still be enjoying creating event buffets and pulling pints.
James said: “I’ve had a varied career, having got through my apprenticeship as an haute cuisine chef, to being front-of-house in a country home in Leicestershire, to running a Wimpy bar in Lincoln and taking my first licence at the age of 21.
“I ran Ruddles’ one and only public house in the heart of the Leicestershire countryside and took on the challenges of an East End boozer, too. All of this has moulded me into being the person I am today.”
For the first 15 years, James travelled around the UK, working in various hotels, pubs and restaurants, before finally settling in West Sussex with his family.
In 1984, he began running The Swan Hotel in Fittleworth and stayed for 11 years, until he moved to Gales Brewery at The George in Eartham, until 1999.
Scottish & Newcastle poached James to head up the team at The Crown & Anchor in Dell Quay Marina and he spent nine years there, before moving to The Windmill pub in Rustington in 2008.
After five years at The Windmill, James took semi-retirement and joined his daughter Rebecca at The New Inn, in Norfolk Road, Littlehampton, where he is still pulling pints and creating lovely buffets for celebrations.
James said: “I have no regrets. I’ve enjoyed every day of my working life, living and working in some of the most beautiful places in the UK.
“I think that I’ll always be involved in the industry, one way or another, whether that be lobbying for British pub status with local MPs, supporting CAMRA and local breweries, or just having a pint in my local with the residents from the neighbourhood who make up our friendly community.”
James said he had enjoyed spending his retirement working with his daughter, as he felt The New Inn was one of the few authentic locals still open in the area.