An intriguing name, a martingale is a piece of harness used on a horse to keep it from raising its head above a desired point, to prevent it from catching on other objects. It is thought the name is a reference to the popularity of horse riding in the area, since a horse track runs across Ham Common towards Sandy Lane. Evelyn Pritchard in their Guide to the Street Names of Ham and Petersham suggests that with a lot off imagination the road is shaped like a martingale. However they also add a comment from a local resident, David Yates, who explained that the term is also used in gambling in which a punter doubles their stake on losing. This may have been a hint that the developer was trying to recoup earlier loses. The road was named sometime around 1969. It was laid out over the grounds of Hardwicke House.
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