When New Chum took his ramble through Launceston and published his findings in 1879, it was a no-holds-barred account of the goings-on in the town.
Chapter seven was devoted to an area he called Alsatia (defined as a 'sanctuary for debtors and lawbreakers, an area famed and feared for its lawlessness').
New Chum wrote that it "was bounded on the south, north, east and west by respectability and runs mostly in two blocks of streets, parallel to Charles and Margaret Streets, enclosed by Paterson Street on one side, and unpeopled bush on the other. It is known and understood as Wellington Street."
A study of police records, Benevolent Society reports and newspaper articles from the 1860s to the late 1880s indicates that the Alsatia area could easily be expanded to include the blocks from Margaret to Wellington and Paterson to Elizabeth streets.
These were the main areas of crime and vice in mid- to late-19th century Launceston, the poorer areas of the town, with the gaol in Paterson Street.
The northern Alsatia area was mainly a damp, low-lying and poorly-built part of the town.
It was close to the wharves where prostitution, vile lodging houses, gambling dens and sly grog sellers were rampant.
Sanitation was mostly non-existent with many slaughterhouses and fellmongers in the vicinity.
As late as 1884, over 70 per cent of houses in Launceston still had cesspits.
The tide flowed two or three hundred yards up the Margaret Street sewer and when the river was in flood, the low-lying areas of Bathurst, York and Elizabeth streets were inundated.
Henry Reed tried to bring some civility to the Alsatia area by establishing a church on Wellington Street.
He purchased and closed Parr's hotel and the adjacent skittle alley.
In 1876 after being cleared and lit by gas, the former skittle alley was used for church services.
Lower York Street was described by some councillors as the "worst street in town" and a letter to the Council in 1889 stated that nearly all of the houses between Bathurst and Margaret streets on the north side were brothels. The Police Superintendent said that there were only four.
A house of ill-fame, illegally selling alcohol, was briefly established nearly opposite the York Street Temperance Hall in 1859 but was quickly closed by the police.
In 1879, Wellington Street had six licensed hotels between Brisbane and Frederick streets.
The Salvation Army built their dual-towered citadel in 1885 on Elizabeth Street, no doubt hoping to reclaim some of the wayward that lived in Alsatia.