Three inquests were held, with three different coroners, each one covering different jurisdictions, depending on where the deceased men were from. The first was opened by Dr James Rowlands of Carmarthen, on the day after the accident and was held at the Raven Hotel, Garnant. It was attended by a jury of 13 men, a government inspector named Mr T. Wales and Mr John Hay, the colliery manager.
The party visited the colliery and were shown the rope. The manager of the rope manufacturers had visited the colliery that morning and had inspected it himself. The rope had torn very unevenly, suggesting that there was no straight line flaw. The manager of the rope manufacturers suggested that the cage had become hitched in some way, causing slack to run from the winding drum. When the cage had gone on again, there would have been a terrific jerk as the slack was taken up and this could have caused the rope to break.
The coroner and Mr Wales, the government inspector, then visited the engine room where everything was found to run smoothly. The engineman denied that there had been any jerk in the machinery and said that if there had, it would have caused a loud noise, which there had not been.
This rope had only been in service for about 17 months and cost about £25, being of the highest quality. Its predecessor had lasted 5 years and had been replaced when some broken wires were found.
After visiting some of the bodies, the party returned to the room where the inquest was being held. The first witness to be called was the overman, who for the time being, was asked only to identify those who had died. The coroner adjourned the inquest until the 29th January, when scientific evidence of the rope's strength could be presented.
On the Friday, two days after the accident, the two other inquests were opened. Mr. E. Strick, the coroner for the Swansea division of the county of Glamorgan, opened an inquest at the Farmers Arms, Brynamman. Another coroner, covering Llandilo, Mr. Protheroe Lewis, sat with a jury in the Gwyn Arms, at the parish of Quarter Bach. This was across the river at Upper Brynamman, in the neighbouring county of Carmarthen. He opened the enquiry for the other two deceased. After the bodies were viewed, both inquests were adjourned.
It emerged that there were no death benefits for the victims families as their fund only covered sickness. One reporting newspaper (Carmarthen Journal) printed a request for donations to help ease the inevitable hardship facing the victims families.
On the Sunday following the accident, a collier was arrested for the killing of the ten men. It is a mere coincidence that the collier shared the same name (Thomas Michael) as that of the Thomas Michael who died in the accident. The two men, however were first cousins.
It had been disclosed that, although unqualified to do so, this collier had been in charge of operating the keeps at the time of the accident, (the keeps support the cage at the top of the pit). He was accused of causing a jerk on the rope which caused it to break. The case was adjourned until the 2nd February and the collier was bailed for the sum of £50.
On Tuesday the 29th January 1884, the inquest resumed at the Raven Hotel, Garnant. The overman, John Davies, gave evidence stating that the keeps were in perfect working order and that he had never had any complaints from the banksmen. He said that a cross bar had been fitted to the cage for tying the horses. He also stated that if the bottom of the cage passed through the keeps, the whole of the cage would, as long as the keeps were kept back.
The next witness was the colliery manager, Mr. John Hay. His testimony included statistics for the rope used, including size and breaking strain. He had made a general examination of the rope on the 11th January, five days before the accident. Part of his testimony was that the cage, on normal descent, travelled at a speed of 9 feet per second and would reach the bottom of the shaft in approximately 26 seconds. He disclosed that he was also the manager of other collieries and only visited Garnant when occasion required.
The representative of the rope company, Mr. James May, gave testimony on the quality and condition of the rope. He stated that it would have been difficult to find the flaw before it had broken as it had corroded from inside. He gave statistics regarding the breaking strain, that if a load of one and a half tons fell six feet, it would have a strain of 30 tons. He stated that even if the rope was new, in his opinion, it would not have withstood that kind of strain.
David Jenkins, the banksman, told the inquest that he had not let the cage down that morning and that it had caught when the top had reached the collar board at the top of the shaft. He said that he had given the signal to stop and that Thomas Michael had let the handle of the lever loose before the cage had stopped. He said that the engineman stopped immediately but that the breakage and the knock came together.
Other witnesses gave evidence; Joseph Jones, the engine driver explained the signals and Mr. T. H. Osgood, a colliery and mechanical engineer, gave further statistics on the breaking strain of the rope. Mr. T. H. Wales, the government inspector, gave his opinion, that steam and gases emanating from the pit over a period of 16 months caused the rope to be weakened and that the cage had not caught on the fangs. He said that he had tested the fangs of the keeps and that if the bottom of the cage had passed through, the rest of the cage would not catch.
The coroner summed up and the jury agreed on their verdict. Their verdict was that the rope had been weakened and that the cage had caught on the keeps, due to mismanagement of the lever. They considered the conduct of Thomas Michael as reprehensible but not culpable. The coroner said that this verdict was tantamount to accidental death.