The setting is at the end of a summer in England in the 1950’s.
When the story opens in a parking lot on “the eve of August Bank Holiday” in England post World War II.
The gang met every morning in an impromptu car-park, the site of the last bomb of the first blitz.
Next to the parking lot is house “number 3, of the shattered Northwood Terrace.” The house literally leans. It is the first occupied house, and it stands alone. It is occupied only by Old Misery, a man who once was a decorator.
Much of the story takes place in or around the strange old house, which is falling down but has some fancy touches. It does not even have working plumbing, because the owner did not know how to do the plumbing himself and was too cheap to hire someone. Therefore the house itself is an ironic contradiction, just as the boys themselves are.
The setting is significant because it is right before a holiday and the owner of the house will not be home, so the boys plan to destroy it. They are the generation that inherited the chaos in the aftermath of World War II, and there senseless violence and destruction is symptomatic of that.