James served a six year apprenticeship in Gold Finishing in Oxford and attended day release classes under Ivor Robinson at Oxford Polytechnic. He was the assistant to Sydney Cockerell in Cambridge for five and a half years from 1968-73. James started and managed The Eddington Bindery for Lord and Lady Fermoy. The Eddington Bindery Ltd. was established at Eddington House and was based in the stable block.
James was an Arts Fellow at the University of Wales, Gwasg Gregynog from 1982-83 and the first visiting lecturer at The Institute of Fine Binding and Book Conservation, Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas in 1987. He has lectured in Australia, Europe and U.S. and is a Past President of both Designer Bookbinders and The Society of Bookbinders. In 2023 he was awarded the MBE for services to bookbinding.
James is currently in partnership with his son, Stuart Brockman, who is another of our Designer Bookbinders Fellows. The Brockman Bindery, founded by James in 1976 and now co-run with Stuart, has developed into a highly specialised hand craft bindery working primarily on modern Fine Bindings and the conservation and fine restoration of manuscripts and printed books.
The emphasis is always on maintaining the highest possible standards, there is no compromise on quality on any work. The bindery consists of a small team of highly skilled craftsmen, all dedicated to the sympathetic and appropriate treatment of books. The Bindery uses the very latest techniques, mostly developed in-house, for everything from the attachment of book boards to the flattening of vellum manuscript leaves.
James has his work in collections nationwide including: British Library, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Library of Wales, Sir J. Paul Getty II Library plus many other National and Private Collections.