The video of that jaw-dropping stunt, for which he was roundly condemned by police and safety campaigners, became an Internet sensation.
For a follow-up he scaled the 84ft high Northam Gas Works in Britannia Road and walked around the 3ft wide rim while the sun came up.
Now his story will be told in a documentary that will hit television screens across the country tomorrow.
The jaw-dropping insight into the 23-year-old’s life will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 9pm.
Filmed by Firecracker Films over the space of three months, the documentary called Don’t Look Down follows James on his death defying adventures around Southampton.
It also traces his journey to the spiritual homeland of the “sport” known as urban climbing.
That is Ukraine, in eastern Europe, where he meets one of the world’s craziest climbers – Mustang Wanted.
The documentary looks at how the daredevil double act push themselves to new and extreme heights.
It shows them climbing derelict buildings and tightrope-walking hundreds of metres above the ground.
James said: “I think the documentary is a good thing, as it will help reach a wider audience and open a few people’s eyes.
“It could inspire people to go and live and do some awesome things as well as go out and explore the world.
“It all came to me as a bit of a surprise, it was one of those things that was just meant to happen.
“The main thing I am trying to get across is that it is not about hanging off cranes, it is getting outside and exploring the world and going on adventures.”
Since his escapades on the crane and the gasworks in Southampton, James says he has deliberately stayed away from the limelight, but insists he hasn’t changed his ways – despite police and safety experts slamming his actions.
Not even the fact that his hair-raising hobby scares the life out of his mother, who suffers from vertigo, will stop him from carrying on.
He said: “I have not changed since then. I have been busier and I have climbed a lot of cranes.
“The only reason I have not done anything in Southampton is because I have not been there.”
James scaled the crane at the Admirals Quay construction site – bypassing its anti-climb device – wearing nothing more than a jumper, a pair of jeans, black canvas shoes and a camera to film the stunt.
He then walked out on to the arm of the crane on a metal girder just inches wide.
Astonishingly he then lowered himself and dangled from a metal bar, before removing one hand, leaving just five fingers between him and plunging to the ground and water below.
The dangerous stunts have been condemned by safety bodies who say such acts not only endanger the person’s life but also those of other people.
David Walker, leisure safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “An appetite for adventure is fine – commendable even – but done in the right context.
“The bottom line is that if things go wrong, it does not only impact on the individual involved but also their family, the emergency services and staff who work at the construction and demolition sites.”
He added that such stunts, particularly when posted on social networking sites, run the risk of being copied by others.
“Children are particularly at risk from trespassing on these sites as several tragic accidents in the past have shown.
“Part of the risk is not just normalising this kind of behaviour, but also copycat activities being carried out by young people,” added Mr Walker.
But the daredevil does not want others to follow in his footsteps.
James added: “I do not want people to join me, I just do it for myself.
“But I am happy that people are becoming more aware of it and opening their minds to it.
“I just live for adventure and putting myself in situations I have never been in.”
Daredevil James Kingston to star in Channel Four programme
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