The Fifth Hants Volunteer Arms closed in May and James has spent the last few days working furiously to get it up to scratch.
The 24-year-old had always dreamed of running his own pub and when he found the local was on the market, he grabbed it with both hands to begin his venture.
James said: ‘I’ve worked in various pubs and have always loved it. The atmosphere and the social side of working in a pub has always appealed to me so to be able to open the Fifth Hants this week is very exciting.’
The pub had only two previous owners for the bulk of its history.
The pub was opened 132 years ago. It first belonged to a man called Ted Walker, who passed the pub on to his daughter Gladys, and then it was sold to John Nash. It is now owned by Fuller’s.
Despite his youth, James isn’t looking to bring in too many modern changes.
James added: ‘I feel like I’m bringing a bit of Portsmouth’s history back to life and I don’t want to insult the locals by ripping things out and changing bits because it’s loved by the community.
‘The pub has a certain charm in its decor and I feel its features are one of the reasons it’s stood the test of time in this uncertain economy. With this in mind I want to keep things as traditional as possible.’
James got in contact with Fullers when he saw The Fifth Hants was available.
He said: ‘I’ve signed up for this short-term. I’m not under any illusions that pubs seem to be closing left, right and centre in Portsmouth and across the UK. However, I really feel that putting my stamp on the establishment will create The Fifth Hants a great place for the locals to return to, relax in and enjoy once again.’
After signing his contract and getting the keys on August 7, James and his business partner plan to open the pub in the next couple of days.
James added: ‘Due to the short lease I want to get things up and running quickly. If things go well, which I think they will, then I can renew and put a longer plan in place to host music events such as acoustic nights, karaoke and open mic evenings.’
Originally from Essex, James moved to Portsmouth five years ago and fell in the love with the city. James said: ‘I really enjoy living in this area. The people are so friendly, the local businesses are all very supportive of each other and, during peak seasons like the summer, the city really comes alive.’