Born in 1863, Francis Hider was the second of four sons born to George William Hider who also had four daughters. Francis’ father, George was a customs officer based in Kent and was a member of the 3rd Sussex Artillery Volunteers where he formed and taught a drum and fife band, as well as being Choirmaster in the parish church.
His father’s musical activities influenced Francis and his brothers as they too joined the drum and fife band and church choir as they came of appropriate age. Francis also showed great artistic promise as a young man, winning awards for both sketches and oil paintings from local academies from the age of 11 onwards.
He rode a penny farthing bicycle and when out riding one day with his bandmate Harry Denne, happened across a double bass in a local shop window. Urged by his friend to purchase the instrument, swiftly an exchange had been agreed for his bicycle, and thus Francis’ bowed instrument journey began.
After finishing school in 1877, Francis began studying to become a dispensing chemist and in 1886 he completed his qualifications, adding M.P.S after his name. Francis then moved to Sandown, Isle of Wight to take over the running of a chemist shop from a recently bereaved widow, but in 1890, as his family had moved to London, he decided to follow them and start his own chemist business at 39 Upton Lane, Forest Gate.
During late 1890, whilst running his own business in London, Francis also chose to dedicate more of his time to studying the Double Bass, and subsequently developed and manufactured his own Double Bass Rosin. This new Hider rosin was designed to be an improvement on the predominantly German rosins available at the time. Francis initially invented 3 types of Double bass rosin: No.1 – For use in cold temperatures; No.2 – For use in medium temperatures; No.3 – For use in warm temperatures.
This newly developed range of double bass rosin was adopted by many professional players of the day, and the product’s acclaim soon led to the creation of ‘F.Hider’s Improved Violin Resin’.
After the success of his rosin and his increased musical activity, Francis started to feel uneasy with life in a chemist’s shop, so he sold the business and moved back into the family home in Forest Gate, where he studied Double Bass full-time, under James Haydn Waud, one of Guildhall School of Music’s very first Double Bass professors.
Francis soon found work deputising for professional double bassists around London, joining Robert Newman and (Sir) Henry Wood’s Queen’s Hall Orchestra in 1895. (The Queens Hall was the home of ‘The Proms’ from 1893 to 1941 and would see performances from such leading lights as Claude Debussy, Edward Elgar, Maurice Ravel and Richard Strauss). Just three years later, as a member of the same orchestra, Francis was honoured to play at Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria under the conductorship of the celebrated Henry Wood.
It was during this time of study and professional performance that Francis’ father, George – now retired from Her Majesty’s Customs – helped his son continue to manufacture the Rosins in the kitchen of their family home. Their success grew, and on 20th August 1897 the Hidersine Company was founded with Francis listed as sole director and his father appointed as manager.